The very best of Test cricket continues this month when number one-ranked South Africa locks horns with fifth-ranked India in a four-match series and number two-ranked Australia hosts sixth-ranked New Zealand in a three-match series, including the first-ever day/night Test in Adelaide. Both series will begin on Thursday, 5 November. These four sides, as well as third-ranked England and fourth-ranked Pakistan, who are battling for supremacy in the Sharjah Test, are separated by just 26 points on the ICC Test Championship. But all this could change, depending on how the three series pan out.
If Pakistan wins the final Test, then it will move marginally ahead of Australia into second place for the first time in nearly in a decade, while England will drop behind New Zealand to sixth position by a fraction of a point. In the case of England winning the Test, both sides will retain their pre-series rankings and points. The ICC Test Championship table will then be updated at the end of Australia-New Zealand series, which means Australia will have to win the series by 1-0 or better to ensure it stays ahead of Pakistan (if Pakistan wins 2-0). In this series, Australia can rise to as high as 110 points, but can also drop to as low as 99 points.
In contrast, New Zealand will gain seven points if it wins 3-0 but will slip to 94 points if Australia sweeps the series. The next update of the ICC Test Championship table will take place following the conclusion of the India-South Africa series. In this series, India will have an opportunity to climb to second position, a fraction of a point behind South Africa.
However, to make it happen, it will have to win all four Tests. On the other side of the coin, South Africa will vault to 130 points and India will plummet to 96 points if the visitors win all four Tests. The following are the series permutations:
Pak v Eng scenarios
Pak 2 Eng 0
Pak 1 Eng 1
Pak 1 Eng 0
Aus v NZ scenarios
New Zealand points
Aus 3 NZ 0
Aus 2 NZ 0
Aus 1 NZ 0 OR Aus 2 NZ 1
Aus 0 NZ 1 OR Aus 1 NZ 2
Aus 0 NZ 2
Aus 0 NZ 3
Aus 1 NZ 1
Ind v SA scenarios
South Africa points
Ind 4 SA 0
112 (2nd, by fraction of a point)
112 (1st, by fraction of a point)
Ind 3 SA 0
Ind 2 SA 0 OR Ind 3 SA 1
Ind 1 SA 0 OR Ind 2 SA 1
Ind 0 SA 1 OR Ind 1 SA 2
Ind 0 SA 2 OR Ind 1 SA 3
Ind 0 SA 3
Ind 0 SA 4
Ind 2 SA 2 OR Ind 1 SA 1
Like the ICC Test Championship table, the ICC Test Player Rankings are also up for major reshuffle as the bulk of the star performers will be in action over the next few weeks. Although the ICC Test Player Rankings will be updated following the conclusion of the Sharjah Test, England’s Joe Root currently occupies the coveted number-one spot with Australia captain Steven Smith in second, just three points behind. Root and Smith have been involved in the fight for the number-one slot since the Trent Bridge Test.
And because there is such a small gap between the two batsmen, neither of them has been able to retain the slot for an extended period of time. With Root left with just one innings in the ongoing series, Smith has an opportunity to not only leapfrog Root but also create some daylight as he has six innings in hand. Breathing down the throats of Root and Smith are the South African duo of Hashim Amla and AB De Villiers, who are separated by just nine points, with team-mate Faf Du Plessis sitting in 16th spot.
Kane Williamson (seventh) of New Zealand and Australia’s David Warner (ninth) are the other batsmen inside the top 10 with Black Caps’ Ross Taylor and Brendon McCullum in 13th and 15th positions respectively. India captain Virat Kohli is his side’s highest-ranked batsman in 13th position and is accompanied by Cheteshwar Pujara (19th) and Murali Vijay (20th) inside the top 20. Led by number one-ranked Dale Steyn, South Africa boasts Vernon Philander (seventh) and Morne Morkel (11th) inside the top 20 with Imran Tahir in 59th spot.
For India, Ravichandran Ashwin (eighth) and Ishant Sharma (19th) are inside the top 20, while the next highest-ranked bowler is Ravindra Jadeja in 30th spot, followed by Amit Mishra (38th), Umesh Yadav (42nd) and Varun Aaron (86th). The New Zealand batsmen will face a real challenge in the three-Test series as five Australia bowlers feature inside the top 20. These include Mitchell Johnson (sixth), Peter Siddle (13th), Josh Hazlewood (16th), Nathan Lyon (17th) and Mitchell Starc (20th).
Fifth-ranked Trent Boult will spearhead New Zealand’s bowling attack, which also includes Tim Southee (10th), Mark Craig (39th) and Doug Bracewell (40th). The top five all-rounders includes three players who will feature in Australia and India, including Ashwin (second), Philander (fourth) and Johnson (fifth).
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