| Ricky Ponting |
Calcutta: Australia captain Ricky Ponting snatched back the coveted top slot of the LG ICC Players Rankings for Test batsmen after Kumar Sangakkara of Sri Lanka dropped two spots to third.
Sangakkara went atop the rankings table after the first Test in Kandy following knocks of 92 and 152, respectively. However, after a disappointing second Test in Colombo where he scored just one, the middle-order batsman slipped down on level terms with Ponting.
In the third and final Test in Galle, Sangakkara scored 46 in the first innings and did not get a second opportunity. His effort was not enough to help him hold on to the top spot and consequently he dropped to third position, two points behind South Africas Jacques Kallis.
While three points separate the top three, Sangakkara wont have an opportunity to have a shy at the top spot until March next year when Sri Lanka go head-to-head with the West Indies in the Caribbean in a two-Test series.
In contrast, Ponting and Kallis, who are separated by one point, will continue their battle for supremacy in their home series against India and the West Indies, starting in Melbourne and Port Elizabeth, respectively, from Boxing Day.
If both players fail to live up to their billing, Sangakkara could find himself in the top position after all.
Sangakkaras teammate Mahela Jayawardene gained three spots and moved ahead of Englands Kevin Pietersen, Australias Matthew Hayden and Pakistans Younis Khan in sixth spot following a superb unbeaten 213 in Galle.
Jayawardene had started the series in 12th position and improved six spots, thanks to his aggregate of 474 runs which earned him the Player of the Series award.
England may have lost the series but opener Alastair Cook earned some consolation when he climbed five places to 13th after his match-saving 113 in Galle. Englands other three batsmen in the top 20 — Pietersen, Paul Collingwood and Ian Bell — all slipped.
In the rankings for Test bowlers, Sri Lanka fast bowler Chaminda Vaas leapfrogged Indias Zaheer Khan and Englands injured pacer Andrew Flintoff to 12th position.
With 11 wickets, Vaas was the second leading wicket-taker in the series behind Muttiah Muralidharan who extended his lead over South Africas Makhaya Ntini.
1. Aus (143); 2. SA (109); 3. SL (109); 4. Ind (109); 5. Eng (107); 6. Pak (94); 7. NZ (91); 8. WI (72); 9. Ban (4).
1. Ricky Ponting (Aus, 936); 2. Jacques Kallis (SA, 935); 3. Kumar Sangakkara (SL, 933); 4. Mohammed Yousuf (Pak, 880); 5. Mike Hussey (Aus, 874); 6. Mahela Jayawardene (SL, 835); 7. Kevin Pietersen (Eng, 804); 8. Matthew Hayden (Aus, 803); 9. Younis Khan (Pak, 799); 10. Shivnarine Chanderpaul (WI, 762).
1. Muttiah Muralidharan (SL, 907); 2. Makhaya Ntini (SA, 808); 3. Dale Steyn (SA, 775); 4. Stuart Clark (Aus, 769); 5. Anil Kumble (Ind, 732); 6. Brett Lee (Aus, 726); 7. Shane Bond (NZ, 724); 8. Shaun Pollock (SA, 701); 9. Matthew Hoggard (Eng, 695); 10. Shoaib Akhtar (Pak, 684).
1. Jacques Kallis (SA, 551); 2. Andrew Flintoff (Eng, 340); 3. Shaun Pollock (SA, 329); 4. Daniel Vettori (NZ, 316); 5. Chaminda Vaas (SL, 276).