India’s players had a lot to celebrate with the latest update in the ICC rankings
The rise of Rishabh Pant continues. He has now secured the highest points tally (747) by any Indian wicketkeeper on the ICC Test batting rankings. That puts him at the joint-seventh place, along with team-mate Rohit Sharma and New Zealand’s Henry Nicholls.
Much as he was when India beat Australia in their own backyard, Pant was a central figure in his team’s victory over England last week which sealed their place in the inaugural World Test Championship final. He struck his first century at home in that Ahmedabad Test, an innings that drew praise from the very best in the business – Adam Gilchrist and Brian Lara to name two. India’s coach Ravi Shastri was particularly effusive about the way he committed to a sterner fitness regime that is helping him churn out these big runs.
Pant has amassed 544 runs from seven Test matches, making him India’s top-scorer in the 2020-21 season and third-highest overall. Among those runs was a 97 that helped India keep an incredible series alive in Sydney and then he sealed it in even more incredible fashion by scoring 89 thrillingly unbeaten runs in Brisbane.
Providing equally invaluable contributions, but with the ball, R Ashwin is now ranked second among all bowlers in Test cricket. This comes soon after he set the record for fastest – in terms of balls (21,242) – to 400 Test wickets. The India allrounder had a stellar series against England, scoring a century on his home ground, which he said made him feel like a hero, and he finished it with 32 wickets from four Test matches.
Not far behind him was Axar Patel. The left-arm spinner playing only his first Test series struck 27 times in three matches to average a scarcely believable 10.54. Thanks to that performance, he climbed eight places to 30th, but more notably, he has 552 points. Only two bowlers have ever done better after their first three Tests – former India leg-spinner Narendra Hirwani (564) and Australia fast bowler Charlie Turner (553), who played in the 19th century.
Sharma has reached his career-best spot after a string of excellent performances in tough conditions. His 161 in the second Test on a Chennai turner was later hailed as the turning point on which India were able to come back from 0-1 down and beat England 3-1. Overall, he is the team’s second-highest scorer this season – and fourth-highest overall – with 474 runs at an average of 47.40.
The latest ICC ranking update also included a couple of blips for India. Their captain Virat Kohli (fifth place with 814) is sitting on his lowest points tally since November 2017 and their No. 3 Cheteshwar Pujara has slipped below 700 for the first time since September 2016.
England, whose captain Joe Root admitted they didn’t take enough of their chances to trouble India, could take solace from James Anderson moving up to the fourth place in bowlers’ rankings. His burst of reverse swing on the last day of the first Test in Chennai was crucial in giving the visitors a lead that they couldn’t capitalise upon. Also moving up the ranks was batsman Dan Lawrence, who rose 47 places to 93rd. An equally rapid mover was Washington Sundar, who was stranded on 96 in the Ahmedabad Test match. He gained 39 places and is at the 62nd position.