England and Pakistan will have the number-two position in the ICC Test Team Rankings in their sights when they meet in the first of a three-Test series in the UAE, which starts in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, 13 October.
England is currently sitting in third place on 102 points, one point ahead of Pakistan with Australia occupying second position on 106 points. This means the side that wins the series in the UAE by 2-0 or better, it will jump to second position.
In 22 Test series to date, England has won nine and Pakistan seven, with the remaining six ending in draws. However, Pakistan won the last series by a 3-0 margin when the two sides met in the UAE in 2011-12.
Meanwhile, seventh-placed Sri Lanka will host eighth-placed West Indies in a two-Test series on Wednesday, with Jason Holder’s men aiming to leapfrog Angelo Mathews’ side in the team rankings.
A clean sweep by the men from the Caribbean would see them move to 87 points, while in the event of that series result Sri Lanka would drop to 84 points. In all other scenarios, Sri Lanka would maintain an advantage.
England’s Joe Root, meanwhile, is the highest-ranked batsman from either in third position. The 24-year-old batsman will be aiming to reclaim the number-one ranking in the ICC Player Rankings for Test Batsmen from Australia captain Steven Smith as only 21 points separate the two batsmen. Strong performances in the series will potentially see Root return to the top of the summit since August when he first claimed the number-one spot after the fourth Test against Australia in Trent Bridge.
Root is joined in the top 10 by sixth-ranked Younus Khan, who needs 19 runs to become Pakistan’s leading run-getter in Tests. He currently sits third in the list of all-time run-makers for Pakistan behind Javed Miandad (8,832) and Inzamam-ul-Haq (8,829).
Just a single point separates rival captains Misbah-ul-Haq (13th) and Alastair Cook (14th), while Sarfraz Ahmed and Azhar Ali (tied for 16th) and Asad Shafiq (19th) other batsmen inside the top 20.
The action is heating up in the ICC Player Rankings for Test Bowlers, with second-ranked Stuart Broad aiming to reduce Dale Steyn’s commanding lead at the top.
Just three points separate fourth-placed Pakistan wrist-spinner Yasir Shah (who has claimed an impressive 61 wickets in 10 Test matches to date) and England’s all-time highest wicket-taker James Anderson (413 wickets to date).
Broad, Yasir and Anderson are separated by 28 points, which indicates there will be movements inside the top five.
The next highest-ranked bowler in the series on either side is Steven Finn (21st) who will be looking to move back into the top 20 after a positive end to the Ashes series where he claimed 12 wickets in the last three Tests of the series.
Broad, in fourth spot on 294 points, is the leading all-rounder on either side in the ICC Player Rankings for Test All-rounders heading into the three-match series.
Siriwardana strengthens Test case with 105*
Milinda Siriwardana’s unbeaten 105 from 149 deliveries was the highlight of the third and final day of the West Indians’ warm-up encounter at the SSC. Siriwardana is in line for a Test debut on Wednesday, when the first Test begins at Galle. Sri Lanka Cricket Board President’s XI finished their first innings on 455 for 6, at which time the match was called off.
The practice outing was a difficult one for the West Indians, who had earlier been bowled out for 209 in their first innings. They did, however, have tougher conditions to bat in. The pitch had slowed down and flattened out by the second day, when the President’s XI began their innings.
A debut was always likely for Siriwardana, as the selectors had chosen only eight batsmen for the Test squad. This performance makes it almost a certainty. He hit 18 fours in his innings, and was involved in a 68-run stand with overnight centurion Udara Jayasundera and a 93-run stand with Angelo Jayasinghe.
The West Indian bowlers gave away 222 runs and took three wickets in the 48.2 overs that were bowled in the day. Jason Holder, Shannon Gabriel and Marlon Samuels claimed one apiece. Perhaps of concern to the visitors may be their spinners’ inability to return good figures on a track that Presidents’ XI offspinner Suraj Randiv had taken a five-wicket haul on - particularly as spin is always expected to feature at Galle.
As this practice game had been postponed by a day, the West Indians only have two clear days in which to recover and prepare for the Galle Test.