Australia and India will have the chance to put daylight between one another at the top of the Reliance ICC One-Day International (ODI) Team Rankings, when they compete alongside England in a tri-series, which starts in Sydney on Friday.
Friday’s opening clash at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) will see Australia host England with Michael Clarke’s men keen to edge a point clear of Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s side at the top of the ODI rankings.
It will be a dress rehearsal for the eagerly awaited ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 opening match, which will see the same sides play each other in exactly 30 days’ time in Melbourne.
Following their 5-0 home series victory over Sri Lanka in November, reigning champions India will be bidding to gain further momentum and become only the third side in ICC Cricket World Cup history to successfully defend their title (after West Indies in 1975, and 1979 and Australia, who won the coveted prize three times in succession in 1999, 2003 and 2007).
Meanwhile, South Africa, bidding to lift the 50-over title for the first time after reaching the semi-finals when Australia and New Zealand last hosted the World Cup back in 1992, welcome the West Indies to Durban Friday in the first of a five-match ODI series, with two of the world’s top three batsmen in the Reliance ICC Player Rankings for ODI Batsmen set to feature.
Proteas captain AB de Villiers is in pole position in the batting rankings on 887 points and the 30-year-old Pretorian holds a 25-point advantage over second placed India batsman Virat Kohli, with Hashim Amla one place further back in third spot.
There are several permutations that could emerge over the coming weeks as New Zealand and Sri Lanka are also battling it out in their seven-match series, with the Black Caps currently holding a 1-0 lead after their three-wicket victory in the first ODI Sunday.