India will get a chance to dethrone England as top-ranked side in the International Cricket Council (ICC) Men's ODI Team rankings when the two sides head into their upcoming series against Australia and West Indies, respectively ahead of the 2019 World Cup.
Table leaders England will take on the West Indies in a five-match series starting in Bridgetown on February 20 knowing that a series loss could give a chance to India to overtake them just weeks ahead of the 50-over showpiece event.
If England lose the series to the Windies and India win a subsequent home series against Australia by a 4-1 margin, the 2011 champions will be at the top of the table by March 13.
Meanwhile, New Zealand will kick off a three-match home series against Bangladesh in Napier on Wednesday with the aim of moving up to the third position in the team rankings.
New Zealand will need to win 3-0 to overtake South Africa in the rankings but South Africa too will have a shot at improving their position in the coming weeks as nine of the 10 teams to feature in the May 30 to July 14 event will be seen in action in different parts of the world.
Similarly, Australia could overtake Pakistan with a series win by any margin over second-ranked India while 10th-ranked Afghanistan would be aiming to close the gap with two-times champions Windies, as the Asian side take on Ireland in a five-match home series being played in the Indian city of Dehradun from February 28.
While the hectic mix of Tests, ODIs and T20Is over the past few months have seen all the leading players in action, the best in the format would be looking to fine-tune their wares for the 50-over contests and gain any psychological advantage by way of improvements in the ICC Men’s ODI Player Rankings.
India captain Virat Kohli and vice-captain Rohit Sharma currently lead the list of batsmen with two others from their team – left-handed opener Shikhar Dhawan (10th) and former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (17th) also featuring in the top 20.
England also have four players in the top 20 with the list having a sprinkling from different teams at the top with Ross Taylor of New Zealand, Joe Root of England, Babar Azam of Pakistan, Faf du Plessis of South Africa and Shai Hope of the Windies taking the positions from third to seventh.
The list of bowlers too is led by an Indian, fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah, who is one among four Indians in the top 20 including wrist-spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, who are in fourth and fifth places, respectively. Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan is in second place among bowlers and first among all-rounders, but only one point ahead of Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan.