Calcutta: With limited overs cricket season set to start, the leading one-day sides are eyeing the ODI Championship table as the battle for the coveted No.1 position will only get intense.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s India, the world champions, are in the third position, just one rating point behind South Africa.
Currently, only 17 ratings points separate the top six sides, with the England and South Africa on equal points at 121. However, Alastair Cook’s side are the No.1 team as they lead South Africa by a fraction of a point.
Four-time world champions Australia (113) trail India by seven points. Sri Lanka are placed at the fifth spot with 108 rating points. Pakistan, the 1992 world champions, are further down at No. 6, four ratings points behind the Lankans, and New Zealand are on 74 ratings points.
But with six top-ranked ODI sides, along with the West Indies and New Zealand, gearing up to play a number of ODIs, mostly in the new year, the ranking table could witness a lot of changes before the April 1 cut-off date.
The team, which would finish as No.1 on April 1 cut-off date, will collect a cheque of $175,000 along with a trophy, while the team that would finish second will get $75,000. Sri Lanka will have to win the series against New Zealand, starting on November 1, at Pallekele to stay ahead of Pakistan in the fifth place.
In January 2013, Australia will host Sri Lanka for a five-ODI series, England will play five ODIs in India and New Zealand will travel to South Africa for three ODIs.
After the Sri Lanka-New Zealand series, Bangladesh will host the West Indies for a five-match ODI series.
These series would be the countdown to the final edition of the Champions Trophy. In June 2013, defending champion Australia will be looking for a treble, having won the previous two editions of the tournament (2006 and 2009).