DUBAI: The Indian cricket team will be aiming to, at least, draw the five-Test series against England, expected to start in Rajkot in Gujarat tomorrow, to ensure that it seals the number one spot at the end of the year.
The top four-ranked Test sides (India, Pakistan, Australia and England) are separated by just 10 points and as these four sides are already or preparing to flex their muscles in the longest format of the game, changes in the upper-half of the draw are on the cards depending on how the upcoming series pans out.
However, if India manages to even draw the series against England, they would retain their top position irrespective of the outcome of the Australia versus South Africa (ranked fifth) series and the New Zealand versus Pakistan series.
In case of a draw, India, currently with 115 points, will finish 113 points and will, thus, be untouchable even if Australia bounces back to win the remaining two Tests against South Africa or if Pakistan wins both the Tests against New Zealand.
A 3-2 series win will lift India to 116 points, while a 4-1 series win will put them at 119 points and they will jump to 122 points in case of a 5-0 win.
For England, a 3-2 series win will put it on 108 points, while a 4-1 series win will mean it will move ahead of India to 110 points.
Meanwhile, India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin continued to hold on to the top spot in the bowlers' chart, while middle-order batsman Ajinkya Rahane has gained a place to be at the fifth position in the batsmen's list in the latest ICC Test rankings.
Ashwin leads the field by a distance as he is the only bowler touching the 900-point mark, which, in ranking terms, is considered outstanding.
Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja is the other Indian bowler to feature inside the top 10 at the seventh position. Ashwin also tops the Test all-rounders rankings.
In the batsmen's list, no other Indian except Rahane, figures inside the Top 10. Cheteshwar Pujara (13th) and skipper Virat Kohli (15th) are the other notable batsmen in the Top 20.