DateLine: 30th January 2012
Saeed Ajmal rises to No.2 spot as Abdur Rehman breaks into the top 10
Michael Clarke, Misbah-ul-Haq, Ricky Ponting and Ross Taylor also on the charge
Crafty off-spinner Saeed Ajmal has risen one more place and his spin partner Abdur Rehman has broken into the top 10 for the first time in his career in the Reliance ICC Player Rankings for Test bowlers which were released on Sunday after the conclusion of the Abu Dhabi, Adelaide and Napier Tests.
Saeed followed up his 10-97 in the Dubai Test with seven for 130 in the Abu Dhabi Test which was enough to put him ahead of Englands fast bowler James Anderson in second position.
The 34-year-old has earned 50 ratings points for this achievement giving him a career-best rating, and he now leads Anderson by 25 ratings points but still trails number-one ranked Dale Steyn of South Africa by 84 ratings points.
Left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman, who had figures of two for 67 and six for 25 to win the man of the match award, has jumped five places to ninth spot. The 31-year-old from Sialkot had also gained five places in the bowlers rankings after his match figures of four for 89 in the Dubai Test.
This is after 23 years year that two Pakistan spinners figure inside the top 10 of the Test player rankings. In September 1988, Abdul Qadir was ranked fifth and Iqbal Qasim 10th, along with Imran Khan (third), Wasim Akram (eighth) and Tauseef Ahmed (13th). The very fact that Saeed Ajmal and Mohammad Hafeez are currently the two top-ranked ODI bowlers means this is undoubtedly one of the finest periods for Pakistan spinners in the history of the game.
Also making upward movements are Peter Siddle, Ryan Harris, Nathan Lyon (all Australia), Chris Martin, Doug Bracewell (both New Zealand), while Monty Panesar of England has returned to the rankings in 34th position.
Siddle, who won the man of the match award for his six for 96 in the Adelaide Test, has gained two places and is now in fourth position with a career-best rating, Harriss match figures of four for 112 has lifted him four places to 22nd spot, while Lyons match figures of five for 111 has earned him nine places and puts him in 43rd position.
Martin has jumped three places to 13th position following his match figures of eight for 31 in the Napier Test which has also earned him the man of the award while Bracewell has climbed four places and is now in 31st position after his five for 38.
Mainstays of their sides batting orders Michael Clarke, Misbah-ul-Haq, Ricky Ponting and Ross Taylor have made big strides in the Reliance ICC Player Rankings for Test batsmen.
Clarke, who struck 210 and 37 and ended up as the player of the series against India, has moved up seven places and now occupies third position. Ponting is the next highest-ranked Australia batsman in 14th position after he climbed eight places following his scores of 221 and 60 not out.
Misbah has broken into the top 10 for the first time in his career in eighth position by rising six places following his contributions of 84 and 12 while Taylors 122 retired hurt in Napier has lifted him three places to 17th position.
Other notable batsmen moving up the order include Azhar Ali in 22nd (up by two), Andrew Strauss in 33rd (up by one), Brad Haddin in 41st (up by two), Asad Shafiq in 47th (up by 12), Virat Kohli in 50th (up by 17) and Bradley-John Watling in 78th (up by 23).
Reliance ICC Test Championship table
For England, the equation is very simple and straightforward it has to win the Test to be guaranteed a number-one spot at the 1 April cut-off date and with it a US$175,000 prize which is presented annually to the side which tops the Reliance ICC Test Championship table at the cut-off date.
If England wins the Test, it will finish on 120 ratings points and will top the table irrespective of how South Africas three-Test series in New Zealand, to be played from 7-27 March, pans out.
However, Englands failure to win the Dubai Test will give South Africa a chance to not only reclaim the number-one spot but will also win the US$175,000 prize.
If England loses the Dubai Test and with it the series 3-0, it will finish on 118 ratings points and can be overtaken by South Africa by a ratings point, provided South Africa sweeps the series in New Zealand.
If England salvages a draw, then it will end on 119 ratings points but will be beaten by South Africa by 0.01 of a ratings point, again if the Proteas win all the three Tests against New Zealand.
The incentive for Pakistan is to win the Test and the series 3-0 is also high. It has the opportunity to narrow the gap with India and Australia to just three ratings points. The two sides are currently sitting on 111 ratings points each, but India is ranked third by a fraction of a point following the home sides 4-0 series win.
A 2-1 series win will mean it will finish on 105 ratings points, while a 2-0 series win will earn it eight ratings points and it will finish on 107 ratings points.
To find out exactly how Pakistan and England Test series will affect the Championship table, please click here. The Test Championship table, unlike the ODI Championship table, is updated only after the end of the series.
For the Reliance ICC Test Rankings (after Abu Dhabi, Adelaide and Napier Tests) please click here.
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(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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