Team India stand a chance of making big gains in terms Test ranking if they manage to register a 3-1 victory over Australia in their ongoing four-match series.
Top-ranked India, who currently enjoy an eight-point lead over number two England, will end the series against Australia at 111 points with a 3-1 series loss but will go up to 118 points with a 3-1 series win. Currently, the series is leveled at 1-1.
The ICC Test ranking scenario is interestingly poised with India currently playing in Australia, New Zealand engaged in a series against Sri Lanka and now South Africa getting set for a Boxing Day opening to their three Tests against Pakistan.
All three series have a bearing on the top five positions, with South Africa having the advantage of knowing what they can reap rewards in home conditions. Currently placed third, South Africa have a chance to leapfrog England to second place but also face the danger of being overtaken by their rivals Pakistan and slipping to sixth place.
South Africa are two points behind England and a 2-0 win will take them to 108 points and above England on decimal points. A 3-0 win will carry South Africa to 110 points, and to within one point of India, should India lose the remaining two matches to Australia. On the other hand, a 3-0 series loss will see South Africa drop to 99 points with Pakistan reaching 100 points.
In the other ongoing Test series, New Zealand, who had a chance to go up to 109 points and second place with a 2-0 series win, will now be looking to reach 107 points by winning the second match after the opening match ended in a draw. Sri Lanka will be on 91 points in such a scenario but go up to 96 if they win the second Test. New Zealand will slip to 100 points if they lose.
As far as ICC Test players' rankings are concerned, South Africa's top-ranked fast bowler Kagiso Rabada gets a chance to increase his lead of eight points over England's James Anderson, while third-ranked Vernon Philander will have to fight it out against Pakistan's fast-rising fast bowler Mohammad Abbas, who trails him by only five points.
Spinner Keshav Maharaj (19th) and formerly top-ranked Dale Steyn (24th), tied with former all-rounder Shaun Pollock at 421 wickets as the highest-wicket taker in Tests for South Africa, will also get a chance to work their way up.
Among batsmen, South Africa's left-handed opener Dean Elgar (eighth), Aiden Markram (11th), Hashim Amla (14th) and Faf du Plessis (17th) will be looking to move up within the list of top 20 batsmen, which features only one Pakistan batsman.
Pakistan opener Azhar Ali (10th) and Asad Shafiq (23rd) are the leading names for the visiting team with three of their batsmen in the 30s - captain Sarfraz Ahmed (32nd), Babar Azam (36th) and Haris Sohail (38th).
Apart from fourth-ranked Abbas, formerly top-ranked Pakistan leg-spinner Yasir Shah (10th) will be looking to recreate the magic of a recent three-Test series against New Zealand in the United Arab Emirates, where he finished with 29 wickets. Fast bowlers Mohammad Amir (36th) and Hasan Ali (39th) will also be hoping to move up the ladder.
(With ANI Inputs)