Pujara gains No.2 slot; Jadeja pips Ashwin to top ICC Test bowler's chart

Indo Asian News Service

Dubai, March 21 (IANS) Indian players continued to rule the International Cricket Council's (ICC) Test rankings as Ranchi double-centurion Cheteshwar Pujara gained four spots to a career-best No.2 spot while his teammate Ravindra Jadeja consolidated his stay on top of the bowler's list after pushing fellow tweaker Ravichandran Ashwin to the No.2 spot.

Jadeja, who grabbed nine Australian wickets in the drawn third Test, gained seven points after starting joint-first with Ashwin at 892 points. The left-arm spinner has become only the third Indian player after Ashwin and Bishan Bedi to top the bowling charts on his own.

Jadeja, who grabbed five for 124 and four for 52 in Ranchi, has also closed in on a major landmark as his tally of 899 rating points puts him on the brink of becoming only the second India bowler after Ashwin to touch the 900-point mark. Ashwin, who had a highest rating of 904 points, has slipped 37 points behind Jadeja to 862 points after finishing with only two wickets in Ranchi.

India pacer Umesh Yadav also gained three places to find himself at a career-high No.26 while South Africa spinner Keshav Maharaj has risen 15 places to reach a career-best 37th spot after taking eight wickets against New Zealand in Wellington while Mustafizur Rahman of Bangladesh jumped 20 spots to be positioned at No.47.

Meanwhile, in the Test rankings for batsmen, Australia's top-ranked Steve Smith reached a career-high rating of 941 points after scores of 178 not out and 21 in the Ranchi Test. The Kangaroo skipper's tally is the joint-fifth highest ever along with Peter May. Only Don Bradman (961), Len Hutton (945), Jack Hobbs and Ricky Ponting (942) have achieved higher rating points.

Among the Indians, while Pujara replaced New Zealand captain Kane Williamson to take the second spot, the other Ranchi centurion Wriddhiman Saha vaulted 14 points to No.51.

Opener Murali Vijay also rose four spots to No.31 while skipper Virat Kohli retained his No.4 position with England's Joe Root at No.3. Williamson dropped to No.5 after a poor outing in the Wellington Test against the Proteas.

Indian middle order bat Ajinkya Rahane, however, dropped two rungs to No.17 while Aussie opener David Warner's poor run pulled him three spots down to No.8.

The Bangladesh pair of Shakib Al Hasan (21st) and Mushfiqur Rahim (28th), Australia's Peter Handscomb (35th) and New Zealand batsmen Jeet Raval (43rd) and Henry Nicholls (45th) also achieved career-best rankings.

Shakib, who took six wickets against Sri Lanka in Colombo, displaced Ashwin from the top rank in the list of all-rounders after the two players inter-changed positions two times last week.

Meanwhile, the race for the second spot in the ICC Test Team Rankings has become interesting as Australia and South Africa compete ahead of the cut-off date of April 1, on which India is assured of finishing first and a cash award of $1 million.

Australia will finish second and get a cash award of $500,000 with at least a draw in the fourth and final Test in Dharamsala while South Africa can finish second if Australia lose and South Africa either win or draw the last match against New Zealand in Hamilton.

The third-placed team on April 1 will receive $200,000 while the fourth-placed team, which will be England, will get $100,000.

--IANS

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