Dubai: The fight for the number one ODI batsmen between India's Virat Kohli and South Africa captain AB de Villiers could get exciting in the coming weeks with the upcoming fixtures offering them an opportunity to either retain or reclaim the top spot on the ICC Player Rankings.
Only eight rating points separate the No.1 ranked Kohli from de Villiers. While India play the West Indies in a three-match series from November 21 in Kochi, South Africa play host to Pakistan in a three-match series from November 24. The series in India finishes on November 27 and the series in South Africa finishes three days later.
This means both Kohli and de Villiers can potentially make the most of the home conditions in their quest. Kohli replaced Hashim Amla as the top batsman at the end of the series against Australia in November 2013, for the first-time in his career.
De Villiers, on the other hand, has been a number one ranked batsman previously, with June 2013 being the last time he was top ranked. The skipper will enter the home series in second position after gaining three places following stellar performances against Pakistan in the UAE.
The latest player rankings was released at the end of the three-match series between Sri Lanka and New Zealand, which ended in a 1-1 deadlock. It also factors in Bangladesh's 3-0 series win over New Zealand and South Africa's 4-1 series win over Pakistan.
India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni remained static at sixth position. Other Indians to complete the top 20 list include Shikhar Dhawan (11th position), Rohit Sharma (15th) and Suresh Raina (17th). Meanwhile, South Africa fast bowler Dale Steyn is back in the top 10 of the ICC Player Rankings for ODI bowlers. Steyn has moved up five positions to 10th after claiming six wickets in two ODIs against Pakistan.
Pakistan spinner Saeed Ajmal has maintained his hold on the number one rank with West Indies' Sunil Narine in second and India's Ravindra Jadeja in third place. Ravichandran Ashwin and Bhuvneshwar Kumar held on to their 17th and 18th positions respectively.
Meanwhile, India start the three-match series against West Indies assured of retaining their number one rank on the ICC ODI Team Rankings table, irrespective of the outcome of the series.
India are currently ranked first with 123 ratings points and enter the series leading seventh-ranked West Indies by 34 ratings points. Because the rankings are weighted to reflect this difference, India's failure to win the series will result in them losing as many as four ratings points.
West Indies, on the other hand, could gain as many five ratings points if they win the series 3-0 to move up to 94, but they will retain their pre-series seventh rank.
South Africa start the series against sixth-ranked Pakistan with an opportunity to move up two places to third, but only if they make a clean sweep of the series. South Africa, currently ranked fifth with 109 ratings points, could gain two ratings points in such a scenario to move level with England, but will be ranked above Alastair Cook's men when the ratings are calculated beyond the decimal point.
But if South Africa win the series by any other margin, they will retain their pre-series fifth rank with no change in ratings points. For Pakistan, a series win by any margin will only mean gain of as many as three ratings points to 101, thereby reducing the gap with fifth-ranked South Africa, but will not result in any change in their ranking position.