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Is Team India guaranteed the No.1 test ranking?

It’s not often that the top test ranking changes as often as it has in 2016. Last Monday, Virat “fitness freak” Kohli’s Indian team crushed New Zealand by 178 runs and with that toppled Pakistan to regain their number 1 status – for the third time in 2016! India began the year at number 1 overtaking South Africa and got back on top briefly in August but over the last ten months, Pakistan and Australia have also held the top spot.

How the ICC calculates test rankings

Some of you will remember that India was top of the (test) pops from late 2009 to early 2011. But how does the ICC calculate test rankings?
– Points are calculated based on a complex weightage formula. Matches two years or older get less weightage (50%), matches less than two years old get more weightage (100%).
– Each team is given one rating point for every win, half for a draw and one bonus point for a series win.
– Ratings are also determined based on the relative rankings of the teams – so if you keep winning against teams that are ranked lower than yours, your rating points increase but slowly.
– It is possible for a team to win a series and suffer a fall in ratings. This would happen if a highly ranked team defeats a low ranked team by a small margin and the results of other series go against them.

All very complex! For those who are really interesting in the mathematics, have a read of this ESPNCricinfo’s summary of how the rankings work.

Where is India in the ICC test rankings right now?

For all you Indian fans who have gone to check out the official ICC test rankings, do note that these are updated only after every series so India is still showing as number 2 with 110 rating points with Pakistan on top with 111 rating points.

Interestingly, the CricBuzz website has reported that India will fall back to number 2 if they lose the third test in Indore. The reason CricBuzz gives is that both Pakistan and India will have 111 ratings points but Pakistan will be ahead of India on decimal points. However, this is contrary to the official ICC position which says that India is guaranteed to be number 1 at the end of the series even if New Zealand earn a consolation win (but Pakistan will have a shot at reclaiming its ranking shortly against the West Indies).

Confused? So are we! 

Anyway, let’s forget decimal places and get back to discussing cricket.

India’s reign at the top in August 2016 may have been for only a week, but at 1 Tip 1 Hand we think Kohli’s India will soon cement its place as the best test team in the world. The number of home test matches India are scheduled to play and the quality of the team are perfect ingredients that should lift India to the top of the rankings.

There are 11 more test matches scheduled between now and March 2017 – after the last test against New Zealand in Indore starting on Saturday, India will take on England, Australia and Bangladesh. It helps that Virat Kohli’s team is finally starting to look like test champions in the making.

The top order looks steady with KL Rahul and Vijay. Cheteshwar Pujara has rediscovered himself on home pitches and now averages 63.40 in home test matches.

The middle order is in good hands with the engine room purring along with Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane. Rohit Sharma and Saha have shown grit and determination and the runs are finally starting to flow for the both of them. With Ashwin at 8 and “triple century king” Sir Jadeja following him, we cannot remember the last time India’s had such a short tail! Even Bhuvi and Shami have each scored test fifties.

On the bowling front, the spin twins Ashwin and Jadeja have had a great start to the long home season and with Shami and Bhuvi back in the mix, India’s pace attack has real teeth.

Saha deserves a special mention. He has been fantastic both behind and in front of the stumps on difficult wickets. India are really reaping the rewards of playing a specialist keeper-batsman (rather than a specialist batsman-keeper) in test matches.

There you have it. Good luck to the Indian team for the final test match against New Zealand at Indore. Incidentally, Indore is hosting its first ever test match – may it start its career with an Indian victory and put the number 1 spot beyond dispute!

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