Big ranking shifts on the cards in India

Number-one ranked India takes on fifth-ranked England in a five-Test series starting in Rajkot on Wednesday, and the rankings could be heavily affected by this series.

The top four-ranked Test sides are separated by just 10 points and as these four sides are already or preparing to flex their muscles in the purest format of the game, changes in the upper half of the draw are on the cards depending on how the upcoming series pan out.

Virat Kohli’s side will be aiming to, at least, draw the series which will seal its number-one ranking at the end of the year, irrespective of the outcome of the Australia v South Africa and the New Zealand v Pakistan series.

In this scenario, India will finish on 113 points and will, thus, be untouchable even if Australia bounces back to win the remaining two Tests against South Africa or Pakistan wins both the Tests against New Zealand.

A 3-2 series win will lift India to 116 points, a 4-1 series win will put them on 119 points and they will jump to 122 points in case of a 5-0 win.

Similarly, the incentive for Alastair Cook’s side is equally high as they will be aiming to move up the order. A 3-2 series win will put them on 108 points, while a 4-1 series win will mean they will move ahead of India to 110 points.

In the rankings for Test Batsmen, England’s Joe Root and India’s Ajinkya Rahane will start the series as their sides’ highest-ranked batsmen. Root is third, just seven points behind second-ranked Kane Williamson of New Zealand, while Rahane is fifth, nine points behind Root.

Other batsmen inside the top 20 and aiming for upward movement include Alastair Cook (11th), Cheteshwar Pujara (13th), Kohli and Jonny Bairstow (joint-15th), while notable batsmen outside the top 20 are Murali Vijay (25th), Moeen Ali (32nd) and Ben Stokes (40th).

In the rankings for Test Bowlers, India’s Ravichandran Ashwin leads the field by a distance. The off-spinner is the only bowler touching the 900-point mark, which, in ranking terms, is considered as outstanding.

The Rajkot Test will also be a big occasion for Stuart Broad, who is set to become England’s 14th player to complete a century of Tests.

In the absence of James Anderson, Broad will be his side’s highest-ranked bowler in fifth position, trailing his England team-mate Anderson by 32 points.

Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja is the other India bowler to feature inside the top 20 in seventh position (16 points behind Broad), while England’s Chris Woakes is in 19th position.

Bowlers aiming to break into the top 20 include Stokes (21st), Ishant Sharma (23rd), Mohammed Shami (26th) and Steven Finn (29th).

Ashwin is also enjoying number-one position in the all-rounder rankings. He is 133 points clear of Moeen Ali, who is ranked third.