ICC Rankings: What must India do to claim the number one ranking in ODIs?
The Indian cricket team’s full-fledged tour of Australia began with the three-match T20I series at the Gabba in November 2018. The hosts clinched the first game at Brisbane while India won the final encounter at Sydney, with the second game at Melbourne being called off due to incessant rain. The series ended in a stalemate (1-1) and the glittering trophy was shared by the skippers, Virat Kohli and Aaron Finch.
The short T20I series was followed by the much-awaited Test series (the Border Gavaskar trophy) which began at the Adelaide Oval. The visitors posted a sensational 31-run victory to take a vital 1-0 lead in the four-match Test series. Tim Paine’s men gave a befitting reply by thumping India by 146 runs at Perth’s brand-new Optus Stadium.
Brushing aside that crushing defeat, India defeated the Aussies at the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne by 137 runs, their first win at the MCG since 1981 and first-ever victory in a Boxing Day Test match. Going into the final Test match at Sydney with an unassailable 2-1 lead, India were confident of a historic series win. With the rain-marred game ending in a draw, Kohli’s men clinched the series 2-1 thereby becoming the first ever Asian side to win a Test Series Down Under. Now, with the three-match ODI series reckoning, both these champion sides will be determined to start the ICC Cricket World Cup-year on a bright note.
The SCG will play host to the first encounter on January 12th, with the caravan heading to the Adelaide Oval and the MCG for the next two ODIs. Meanwhile, Virat Kohli’s men are ranked second in the ODIs according to the latest ICC ODI Team rankings (released on January 8th) with a rating of 121 and are five points behind leaders England(126).
They have a great chance to lessen the gap at the top of the table, but that’s not going to be easy at all. After the three ODIs against Australia, India will be up against hosts New Zealand in a five-match ODI series beginning just five days after the Melbourne ODI.
Following the ODIs against Kiwis, India welcomes Australia for a five-match ODI series which begins on March 2 and ends ten days before the 2019 IPL kicks-off. Let us now look at three possible scenarios that might take India to the top spot in the ODIs.
Scenario 1: Australia vs India (3 ODIs)
For India to close the gap at the top of the ladder, they need to whitewash the Aussies in their own backyard (a 3-0 win). In that case, it will take them to 122 points, just four points behind England. If they lose 2-1 or 3-0, then the points might read as 119 and 117 respectively.
Scenario 2: New Zealand vs India (5 ODIs)
Even a 5-0 whitewash against Kane Williamson's men (after whitewashing Australia) won't improve India's ranking who are supposed to stay at the number two spot. But the eight consecutive wins (three against Australia and five against New Zealand) might take India to 125 points, just one short of England.
Scenario 3: India vs Australia (5 ODIs)
This will be India's last chance to claim the top spot before the World Cup kicks-off as they will be heading to the IPL on March 23. For that, they must once again whitewash Australia and hope England doesn't whitewash West Indies in the five-match ODI series. Or even a 4-1 series win will be enough to claim the top spot provided the West Indies beat England 3-2.