Top-ranked Australia and second-ranked India will have to complete comprehensive wins in their upcoming away Test series against Sri Lanka and the West Indies respectively so as not to lose crucial points in the ICC Test Team Rankings.
The West Indies will host India in a four-Test series starting in Antigua on Thursday, 21 July, while Australia will go head to head with Sri Lanka in Pallekele from 26 July in a three-Test series. India is ahead of eighth-ranked the West Indies by 44 points and Australia leads seventh-ranked Sri Lanka by 33 points, and because the rankings are weighted to reflect this difference, India and Australia’s failure to win their series convincingly will mean they will drop points.
India will have to defeat the West Indies by a margin of 3-0 or better to stay at 112 points. Even a 3-1 or 2-0 win for India will see it slip to 110 points. On the other hand, a 3-1 or 2-0 win by the West Indies will see it rise to 79 points with India dropping below the 100-point mark to 98.
Similarly, Australia will have to win 2-0 or better against seventh-ranked Sri Lanka to ensure it does not go below its current 118 points. In contrast, even Sri Lanka’s 1-0 win over Australia will earn it seven points and move to 92 while Steve Smith’s side will slip to 111 points.
With England and Pakistan already involved in a four-Test series in England, major shake-up on top of the Test table is on the cards depending how the three series pan out.
Meanwhile, India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin will be gunning for the No.1 spot in the MRF Tyres ICC Player Rankings for Test Bowlers as an interesting contest promises to develop with Pakistan leg-spinner Yasir Shah, who wrested the top spot following a 10-wicket haul in the Lord’s Test that ended on Sunday.
Yasir is seven points ahead of Ashwin with three more matches to go against England. One will have to wait and see how long the two can continue the rare occurrence of two spinners at the top. The last time slow bowlers took the top two slots was in March 2006 when Sri Lanka off-spinner Muttiah Muralidaran and Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne peaked to number-one and two positions, respectively.
India’s left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja is the other India bowler inside the top 10 in sixth spot, while fast bowler Ishant Sharma is ranked in 20th place.
For the West Indies and in the absence of an injured 21st-raned Kemar Roach, Jerome Taylor will start the series as his side’s top-ranked bowler in 24th place.
India’s Ajinkya Rahane will be the top-ranked batsman from either side in 12th spot and hoping to break back into the top 10. India captain Virat Kohli, who has been ranked No.1 in both ODIs and T20s but never higher than eighth in Tests, will also be looking to improve his current ranking of 14th.
For the West Indies, stylish left-hander Darren Bravo is in 23rd spot, while Kraigg Braithwaite is 32nd and the experienced Marlon Samuels 43rd.
The Sri Lanka-Australia series will see several leading batsmen in action, including skipper Steven Smith, who is the top ranked batsman in the MRF Tyres ICC Rankings for Test Batsmen. Adam Voges (sixth) and Vice-captain David Warner (eighth) have opportunities to improve their rankings, while Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews is the only batsman from his side inside the top 10 in 10th position.
Australia fast bowler Josh Hazlewood in eighth position is the highest-ranked bowler in the series, but team-mates Nathan Lyon (12th), Mitchell Starc (14th) and James Pattinson (19th) all have enough incentive to move up the ladder.
The player rankings will now be updated following the conclusion of Antigua and Old Trafford Tests.
West Indies vs India
21-25 July - 1st Test, Antigua
30 July- 3 Aug 3- 2nd Test, Kingston
9-13 Aug – 3rd Test, Gros Islet
18-22 Aug - 4th Test, Port of Spain
Sri Lanka vs Australia
26-30 July – 1st Test, Pallekele
4-8 Aug – 2nd Test, Galle
13-17 Aug – 3rd Test, Colombo