Feb 4/10



India need only draw with South Africa in the upcoming two-match series to retain the No. 1 spot in the ICC Test rankings. But if they lose the series, being billed as a world championship bout, they stand to lose the US$175,000 the ICC gives to the team that is on top come April 1.

MS Dhoni’s India go into the series with 125 points, five ahead of Graeme Smith’s South Africa, whom they displaced at the top of the pile on December 6 with a 2-0 Test series win over Sri Lanka. A 1-0 win will lift India to 127 points and push South Africa to 118 ratings points; a 2-0 result will drop South Africa to 116 points, for which they will receive $75,000 from the ICC.

Having made clear their intentions to recapture the No. 1 ranking when they defeated Australia in a Test series for the first time in 16 years last summer, South Africa need to win 1-0 to do so, which will take them to 123 points and see India drop to 122. If South Africa sweep the series they will rise to 125 points and India fall to 120.

They have won just two of their past eight Tests, four of which were against Australia, and their inability to register a series victory over England at home recently kept them from taking the top spot.

Australia are ranked third and, though they are touring New Zealand, have no chance of moving to the top.

In other ranking opportunities, Smith and Gautam Gambhir, the Indian opener, will battle it out for the No. 1 spot for Test batsmen. Gambhir is in first position, 39 points ahead of Smith, but a lean series could see him lose his place.