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India look to narrowing gap on Australia

Chennai, Feb 21 (IANS) India and Australia will lock horns in a four-Test cricket series, starting here Friday, with an eye to the ICC Test Championship table.

South Africa have already sealed their position as the number-one ranked Test side even before the April 1 cut-off date and have been assured of a $450,000 reward.

The second-placed team will receive $350,000, third-ranked $250,000 and fourth-placed $150,000.

India and Australia, as well as second-ranked England, who will take on New Zealand in a three-Test series from March 6, will be aiming to collect points from their respective series which can help them win the increased incentive in the form of prize money approved by the ICC Board in 2012.

Australia are currently ranked third and lead fifth-ranked India by 12 ratings points. However, this could potentially change, depending how the series pans out.

To be guaranteed second position on the Championship table at the cut-off date, Australia need to win the series 2-0 or better. If Australia win 2-0 and England beat New Zealand 3-0, then both Australia and England will be locked at 119 ratings points but Australia will be ranked above England when the ratings are calculated beyond the decimal point.

As far as India go, they can move ahead of Pakistan and finish fourth by the deadline if they win the series 1-0 or better. To move ahead of Australia, India will have to win 4-0.

Australia captain Michael Clarke is occupying second position in batsmen rankings, six ratings points behind South Africa’s Hashim Amla, while India’s Sachin Tendulkar is in 20th spot.

Batsmen aiming to break into the top 20 or improve their rankings include Virender Sehwag (22nd), Cheteshwar Pujara (24th), David Warner and Virat Kohli (joint 25th), Shane Watson and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (joint 36th), Phillip Hughes (44th), Ed Cowan (45th), Ravichandran Ashwin (46th) and Matthew Wade (51st).

Among the bowlers, Peter Siddle is the highest-ranked Australian bowler in fifth position, with fellow paceman Mitchell Johnson in 18th. For India, left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha is in eighth spot and his fellow spinner Ravichandran Ashwin is in 20th place.

Bowlers eyeing upward movement include Harbhajan Singh and Nathan Lyon (joint 25th), Ishant Sharma (32nd), James Pattinson (34th) and Mitchell Starc (40th).

In the Test all-rounders list, third-ranked Shane Watson is the only player from either side in the top five. The list is headed by Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan with Jacques Kallis second.


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