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ICC ODI Championship

ISLAMABAD: World champion India can continue their quest to hold the number-one position in both Tests and one-dayers when they take on the West Indies in a five-match ODI series starting on Monday (today). Already leading the way in the game’s pinnacle format, India need to keep the pressure up on top-ranked Australia in the 50-over version with a strong performance in the Caribbean. They will then travel to England where they will play a further five ODIs.

Failure to win the series against the West Indies will put a dent in India’s ambitions. In fact, only a five-nil series victory will give them any significant benefit on the rankings table. That is because the West Indies are ranked several places below India and currently trail by some 49 ratings points so the rankings system is weighted to reflect that apparent disparity.

Meanwhile, a number of players from both India and the West Indies will be eyeing upward movement in the ICC ODI Players Rankings as this five-match series presents an opportunity for them to make a mark.

With Mahendra Singh Dhoni being rested for the ODIs, stand-in captain Suresh Raina will certainly be hoping for an improvement on his current position at 32 in the batting log. He’ll be anxious to join an array of his team-mates already enjoying positions inside the top 20. Virat Kohli, in eighth position, is the highest-ranked India player in ODIs and in the absence of Gautam Gambhir (in 12th position), Virender Sehwag (in 13th) and Yuvraj Singh (in 17th) through injury and illness, not to mention the resting Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar, Kohli can put some more daylight between himself and his colleagues.

With no Chris Gayle or Shivnarine Chanderpaul in the West Indies squad, at least for the first two matches of the series, the highest-ranked home batsman will be Ramnaresh Sarwan in 38th place. As far as the bowling is concerned, India also hold the advantage. Experienced off-spinner Harbhajan Singh (17th position) is the highest-ranked bowler from either team in this series and the only one in the top 20.

There are, however, plenty of contenders hovering just on the edge so this series will be a chance for in-form Ravi Rampaul (29th), Praveen Kumar (30th) and Munaf Patel (32nd), among others, to make their mark.