Mumbai: India moved to second place in the ICC ODI rankings on Friday after Australia lost their fifth consecutive one-day international at the hands of archrivals New Zealand at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Another India win on Sunday could close the gap to South Africa to just two points as race for top position at the end of March heats up.
New Zealand on a roll too, could close to within three points of Proteas with three more wins over Australia
The repercussions of New Zealand’s six-wicket win over Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Friday could be felt as far away as Colombo.
That was because the loss for Michael Clarke’s side, it’s fifth in a row, has dropped it down to third place in the ICC ODI Championship table with India, currently in Sri Lanka for its own ODI series, replacing it in second spot.
Australia is now one rating point behind India, four back from leaders South Africa and only four clear of the Black Caps.
Since the ODI rankings were launched in October 2002, India has never been as high as second in the table.
And Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s side, already 4-0 up in its ongoing series, can close the gap to the Proteas to two points if it secures victory in the final ODI on Sunday (8 February).
But Australia can regain second spot if it wins back-to-back matches against New Zealand on Sunday, in Sydney, and Adelaide, on Tuesday (10 February).
And if it can string three wins together to take out the series then it will draw level on points with South Africa, although it will still lie second when the ratings are calculated beyond the decimal point.
Of course, that will be the last thing on the minds of New Zealand. Two more wins will see it overtake Australia and drop the home side to fourth on the table, while a series clean sweep will take it to 122 points, just three behind South Africa.
Whatever happens, the current make-up of the head of the ICC ODI Championship table means the annual race for top spot at the end of March is likely to go right down to the wire.
The side that leads the listing at that point will be US$175,000 richer while the runner-up will collect US$75,000. The ongoing series and the upcoming one between New Zealand and India look set to determine where those pay-outs will end up.
ICC ODI Championship (as of 6 February, after Australia – New Zealand ODI)