India can regain No.1 spot in ODIs

Dubai, Jan 9 (IANS) World champions India can regain their No.1 spot in the International Cricket Council (ICC) ODI Championship table if they can whitewash England in the five-match One-day International (ODI) series starting Jan 11 in Rajkot.

While India play Pakistan in the five-match series, South Africa will play New Zealand in a three-match series starting Jan 19 in Paarl.

But India, who are ranked world No.3, will be keeping a close watch on South Africa's series against New Zealand. Second-ranked South Africa will jump to the top position if they win all their three matches against New Zealand.

England will be aiming to carry their Test form into the ODIs and win their first series in India in 28 years and cement their status as the No.1 side.

England currently lead second-ranked South Africa by a fraction of a point, but will take an outright lead on the championship table if they win the series, irrespective of the results of the South Africa-New Zealand and Australia-Sri Lanka series (starting Friday in Melbourne).

However, England's failure to win the series will give both India and South Africa opportunities to reclaim the top spot.

The tussle for the top spot on the ICC ODI Championship Table is also a build-up for the ICC Champions Trophy, scheduled to be held from June 6 to 23 in England and Wales.

Group A includes defending champion Australia, 2000 winner New Zealand and 2002 champion Sri Lanka, along with host England, which reached the final when they last staged the event in 2004.

Australia and Sri Lanka face-off on June 17 at The Oval in a day-night match during what will be the final edition of the ICC Champions Trophy.

While Australia and Sri Lanka may not be in the race for the No.1 position on the Championship Table, the five-match series will provide both sides an opportunity to size each other up.

Sides in Group B of the ICC Champions Trophy are 1998 winner South Africa, 2004 champion West Indies, 2002 winner India, and Pakistan.

The tournament opener will feature the two former winners when South Africa takes on 2002 champion India in Cardiff, June 6. The next day, the West Indies will face Pakistan at The Oval.

The semi-finals will be staged at The Oval (June 19) and in Cardiff (June 20), while Edgbaston will host the final slated for June 23.

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