With limited overs cricket season set to start, all eight leading one-day sides are eyeing the ICC ODI Championship Table, as the battle for the coveted No.1 position remains tight with world champion India in third position, just one rating point behind South Africa.
Currently, only 17 ratings points separate the top six sides, with England and South Africa on equal points at 121.
However, Alastair Cook’s side is rated above South Africa by a fraction of a point, while India with 120 points is behind South Africa by only a rating point.
Four-time world champion Australia (113) trails India by seven points. Sri Lanka is placed at fifth spot with 108 rating points.
1992 world champion Pakistan is further down at No.6, four ratings points behind the Lankans, and New Zealand is on 74 ratings points.
But with six top-ranked ODI sides, along with the West Indies and New Zealand, gearing up to play a number of ODIs, mostly in the new year, the ranking table could witness a lot of changes before the April 1 cut-off date.
The team, which would finish as No.1 on April 1 cut-off date, will collect a cheque of $ 175,000 along with a shield, while the team that would finish second will get $ 75,000.
Sri Lanka will have to win the series against New Zealand starting on November 1 at Pallekele to stay ahead of Pakistan in fifth place.
A 3-2 series win for New Zealand will mean Sri Lanka will slip to 103 ratings points, one behind Pakistan, while a 5-0 series win for Sri Lanka will put it just three ratings points behind fourth-ranked Australia.
In January 2013, Australia will host Sri Lanka for a five-match ODI series, England will play five ODIs in India, and New Zealand will travel to South Africa for three ODIs.
ODI series taking place from February-March, include Australia vs West Indies (in Australia, five ODIs), New Zealand vs England (in New Zealand, three ODIs) and South Africa vs Pakistan (in South Africa, five ODIs).
After the Sri Lanka-New Zealand series, Bangladesh will host the West Indies for a five-match ODI series.
These series would be the countdown to the final edition of the ICC Champions Trophy. In June 2013, defending champion Australia will be looking for a treble, having won the previous two editions of the tournament (2006 and 2009).
But Australia will face stiff challenge from former champion South Africa (1998), New Zealand (2000), India and Sri Lanka (2002), and West Indies (2004), who would also be looking to lift the trophy for a second time by winning the final edition of the event.
Keywords: ICC ODI rankings