Team India back on their way upward

Updated: Jan 27, 2007, 10:48 AM IST

Dubai, Jan 27: India`s successes in the first two ODIs in the ongoing series against the West Indies have given Rahul Dravid`s side the prospect of climbing back up to fourth place in the ICC ODI Championship table.

With the victories in Nagpur and Cuttack, India have closed the gap on the sides immediately above it--fourth-placed New Zealand and fifth-placed Sri Lanka—to just a single rating point.

India was as high as third in the table in last April, but debilitating losses in the Caribbean and South Africa and well as disappointing form at home in the ICC Champions Trophy in October plunged the side to sixth position.

If India continues its winning run in Chennai on Saturday and in Vadodara on January 31, it will not only overtake Mahela Jayawardene`s men but could do likewise with Stephen Fleming`s line-up if New Zealand loses both its upcoming tri-series matches against Australia and England.

Two more wins for India would also leave it just two rating points adrift of neighbours Pakistan, although both sides are still a long way short of catching second-placed South Africa and table-topping world champions Australia.

Graeme Smith`s side is 14 points clear of Pakistan prior to the two sides` five-match ODI series immediately before the ICC Cricket World Cup.

Meanwhile, Australia, which has gained three rating points since the start of its annual tri-series thanks to its unbeaten record, is now eight points ahead of the Proteas.

At the other end of the table, the West Indies` two losses have seen its rating slide and it is now just two points clear of eighth-placed England, itself in a run of poor results.

In the LG ICC Rankings for ODI players, India`s top-ranked batsman is Mahendra Singh Dhoni on sixth spot and he has two team-mates for company in the top 20, with Dravid 15th and the fit-again Yuvraj Singh 18th.

Sachin Tendulkar lies 25th, Virender Sehwag is 31st and Sourav Ganguly re-enters the listing in 67th position after narrowly missing out on three figures in Nagpur.

At the top, Michael Hussey continues to dominate the batting list as England`s Kevin Pietersen maintains his second spot while Adam Gilchrist of Australia climbed one place up to be third.

Harbhajan Singh and the recalled Irfan Pathan are the side`s two players inside the top 20 of the LG ICC player rankings for ODI bowlers.

While Ajit Agarkar lies just outside that select group in 22nd position and Zaheer Khan has risen seven places to joint 38th place.

Zaheer is one of the biggest climbers in the bowling top 50, along with England`s Jon Lewis (up seven to 47th) and Stuart Clark of Australia (rising nine to stand at 40th).

Shaun Pollock of South Africa and Glenn McGrath and Nathan Bracken of Australia were the top three bowlers with their unchanged placings.

Bureau Report