England and India play the first match of their upcoming series in Nottingham on Tuesday, in what will kick off a month-long extravaganza of One Day Internationals featuring 10 sides, spread across four continents.
Coming on the back of a well-contested Twenty20 International series, which India won 2-1, the top two sides in the MRF Tyres ICC ODI Men’s Team Rankings present some interesting prospects in the three-match series a year ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 to be hosted by England and Wales from 30 May to 14 July.
India, who had conceded the top ranking to England at the annual update on 2 May, get a chance of claiming back the spot, but for that, they will have to blank their adversaries 3-0. England, on the other hand, will run up a lead of 10 points at the top of the table if they win by the same margin.
The possibility of a change at the top though is not the only matter of interest in upcoming matches since seven of the 10 teams playing in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 will be on view during this period until 12 August.
Apart from the England-India series ending on 17 July, Zimbabwe will host Pakistan for five matches from 13 to 22 July, the West Indies will play three at home versus Bangladesh from 22 to 28 July, Sri Lanka will host South Africa for five matches from 29 July to 12 August and the Netherlands play two at home against Nepal.
Fifth-placed Pakistan will have to win the series against Zimbabwe by a margin of 4-1 in order to ensure they do not slip behind sixth-placed Australia, while 10th-ranked Zimbabwe will have to pull off a 4-1 win over Pakistan in order to leapfrog Afghanistan and move up one spot in the rankings table.
Similarly, third-ranked South Africa face the challenge of blanking Sri Lanka 5-0 in an away series to ensure they do not slip behind New Zealand even as mid-table sides Bangladesh (seventh), Sri Lanka (eighth) and the West Indies (ninth) will be vying for important points during this period.
Nepal will debut in ODIs when they play two matches against the Netherlands on 1 and 3 August while the Netherlands will be turning out in ODIs for the first time since losing ODI status in 2014 at the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier in New Zealand. Nepal gained ODI status at the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe earlier this year while the Netherlands regained it had earlier by winning the ICC World Cricket League Championship.
The players of these two nations will be hoping to make impressive entries in the MRF Tyres ICC ODI Player Rankings, which could see a number of changes when the rankings are next updated on 13 August after 18 matches featuring many of the top players around the world.
India captain Virat Kohli leads the rankings for batsmen with a career-high rating of 909 points, a good 96 points ahead of Pakistan’s Babar Azam, who will be hoping to get back into the groove after missing the recent tri-series in Zimbabwe due to injury.
Fourth-ranked Rohit Sharma of India will be looking to continue his T20I form in the ODIs, sixth-ranked Joe Root of England has a good chance of overtaking Ross Taylor, while the South Africa pair of Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis, as well as India’s left-handed opener Shikhar Dhawan, are the other players likely to be seen in action.
In the bowlers’ list, top-ranked Jasprit Bumrah’s finger injury, due to which he will miss the series, gives others a chance to close the gap, and third-ranked Hasan Ali of Pakistan would be eyeing a return to the top spot. Leg-spinners Adil Rashid of England and Yuzvendra Chahal of India are other top 10 players who will be seen in upcoming matches.