Kagiso Rabada and the Proteas will have their work cut out for them on tour in Sri Lanka. Photo: @OfficialCSA on Twitter

GALLE – Third-ranked South Africa face the challenge of blanking Sri Lanka 5-0 in an away series to ensure they do not slip in the One Day International team rankings.

First up though, is a two-Test series starting in Galle on Thursday for South Africa which will be the immediate concern. The five-match ODI series begins in Dambulla on July 29.

Meanwhile, England and India play the first match of their upcoming series in Nottingham on Tuesday, in what will kick off a month-long extravaganza of One Day Internationals featuring 10 sides, spread across four continents.

Coming on the back of a well-contested T20 International series, which India won 2-1, the top two sides in the ICC ODI team rankings present some interesting prospects in the three-match series a year ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 to be hosted by England and Wales.

India, who had conceded the top ranking to England at the annual update on May 2, get a chance of claiming back the spot, but for that, they will have to blank their adversaries 3-0. England on the other hand will run up a lead of 10 points at the top of the table if they win by the same margin.

The possibility of a change at the top though is not the only matter of interest in upcoming matches since seven of the 10 teams playing in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 will be on view during this period until August 12.

Apart from the England-India series ending on July 17, Zimbabwe will host Pakistan for five matches from July 13 to 22, the West Indies will play three at home against Bangladesh from July 22 to 28, Sri Lanka will host South Africa for five matches from July 29 to August 12 and the Netherlands play two at home against Nepal.

South Africa's tour in Sri Lanka kicks off with a two-Test series starting in Galle on Thursday. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
South Africa's tour in Sri Lanka kicks off with a two-Test series starting in Galle on Thursday. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Fifth-placed Pakistan will have to win the series against Zimbabwe by a margin of 4-1 in order to ensure they do not slip behind sixth-placed Australia, while 10th-ranked Zimbabwe will have to pull off a 4-1 win over Pakistan in order to leapfrog Afghanistan and move up one spot in the rankings table.

In the One Day International player rankings, there could see a number of changes when the rankings are next updated on August 13 after 18 matches featuring many of the top players around the world.

India captain Virat Kohli leads the rankings for batsmen with a career-high rating of 909 points, a good 96 points ahead of Pakistan’s Babar Azam, who will be hoping to get back into the groove after missing the recent tri-series in Zimbabwe due to injury.

Fourth-ranked Rohit Sharma of India will be looking to continue his T20I form in the ODIs, sixth-ranked Joe Root of England has a good chance of overtaking Ross Taylor, while the South Africa pair of Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis as well as India’s left-handed opener Shikhar Dhawan are the other players likely to be seen in action

In the bowlers’ list, top-ranked Jasprit Bumrah’s finger injury, due to which he will miss the series, gives others a chance to close the gap, and third-ranked Hasan Ali of Pakistan would be eyeing a return to the top spot. Leg-spinners Adil Rashid of England and Yuzvendra Chahal of India are other top 10 players who will be seen in upcoming matches. 

African News Agency (ANA)

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