India need to crush England 5-0 to regain top ODI ranking
The five-match one-day series between India and England will throw open the race to the number one team and Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men will have to whitewash the visiting side to regain its numero uno status on the Reliance ICC ODI Championship table.
India is playing England in a five-match ODI series starting on Friday in Rajkot and the only way the hosts, currently ranked third, can regain their number one ranking is by winning all the five matches of the series.
A 5-0 win will see India jump two places to claim the top spot.
England too will be aiming to carry its Test form into the ODI format and win its first series in India in 28 years, and cement its status as the number-one ranked side.
South Africa too can move to the top of table as they are playing New Zealand in a three-match series starting on January 19 in Paarl. However, the Proteas can only go top if it wins all three matches against New Zealand and India wins its series, but fails to complete a clean sweep.
England currently leads second-ranked South Africa by a fraction of a point, but will take an outright lead on the championship table if it wins the series, irrespective of the results of the South Africa-New Zealand and Australia-Sri Lanka series (starting on Friday in Melbourne).
In ICC ODI Player Rankings, no fewer than seven batsmen featuring in the top 10 are likely to figure in the India-England, Australia-Sri Lanka and South Africa-New Zealand series.
Hashim Amla currently leads the pack with his team-mate AB de Villiers second. India's Virat Kohli in third spot leads his captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni by 35 ratings points, and he will not only be aiming to strengthen his position with a strong performance against England, but also put pressure on South Africa's ODI captain.
It is expected that the series will result in fewer changes at the top of the Reliance ICC Player Rankings for ODI bowlers, where number-one ranked Saeed Ajmal of Pakistan is currently enjoying a comfortable lead over second-placed teammate Mohammad Hafeez.
As many as five of the top 10 are expected to be in action during the three series, including Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Morne Morkel, Steven Finn, Ravichandran Ashwin and Dale Steyn.
The tussle for the top spot on the Reliance ICC ODI Championship Table is also a build-up for the ICC Champions Trophy, scheduled to be held from June 6 to 23 in England and Wales.