India's top position safe, for now

The predictor on the ICC’s official website had shown last week that if Sri Lanka won this series 2-0 or better, then they would displace India from the top of the standings. On Friday, after its annual update of the rankings, the ICC announced that India will stay the top side even if they lose the third Test at the P Sara Oval, and Sri Lanka can at best climb to second behind their Asian rivals if they clinch the series 2-0.

The ICC added that by virtue of the draw in the second Test, India have not only retained the number one position but have moved 11 ratings points clear of second-placed South Africa, irrespective of how the third Test unfolds, because the annual update knocks off results of all the matches completed until August 2007, and India have thus earned six ratings points to move to 130 points from their current 124.

India’s cause, too, was helped by the fact that Sri Lanka lost four ratings points and dropped to 111. Had the update not taken place, Sri Lanka would have climbed to 121 points and India tumbled to 120 in the event of a 2-0 victory for the hosts.

The annual update of the Test and ODI Championship tables take place so that both reflect recent form and discard earlier results. This pattern is repeated each August, with the oldest of the four years of results removed and replaced with results of series completed over the following 12 months. Thus, once a year, a release stated, the Test rankings change overnight without any new series being completed.

India were the big beneficiaries from the update, gaining six ratings points to catapult to 130 ratings points from 124. South Africa, in second place, dropped one ratings point and slipped to 119 points. Their inability to win the current Test series will cost India points when the table is next updated on August 7.

If India win the third Test and draw the series 1-1, they will slip to 127 ratings points. If the Test is drawn, India will slide to 124 points but if they lose the Test, they will drop to 122 points and Sri Lanka will climb to 121 points.

In the one-day table, India dropped one rating point but still climbed to second, 14 points behind Australia, because South Africa, previously placed second, dropped four ratings points and slipped to 115, three points behind the Indians. Australia gained one point after the update and are sitting pretty at the top with 132 ratings points.

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