The countdown to the final edition of the ICC Champions Trophy will begin on Thursday when former champions Sri Lanka and New Zealand will go head to head in a five-ODI series in Pallekele.

This series will serve as a curtain-raiser for what will be a thrilling season of ODI cricket, and the next eight months will provide all eight leading ODI sides a perfect opportunity to fine-tune their preparations for one of the ICC’s major events.

In June 2013, defending champion Australia will be looking for a treble, having won the previous two editions of the ICC Champions Trophy (2006 and 2009).

But Australia will face stiff challenge from former champions South Africa (1998), New Zealand (2000), India and Sri Lanka (2002), and West Indies (2004), who will each be looking to lift the trophy for a second time by winning the final edition of the event.

The six top ranked ODI sides, along with the West Indies and New Zealand, will be playing a number of ODIs (mostly in the New Year) that will help them to gear up for the ICC Champions Trophy 2013.

In January 2013, Australia will host Sri Lanka for a five-ODI series, England will play five ODIs in India, and New Zealand will travel to South Africa for three ODIs. ODI series taking place from February-March include Australia v West Indies (in Australia, five ODIs), New Zealand v England (in New Zealand, three ODIs) and South Africa v Pakistan (in South Africa, five ODIs).

And all this will begin in Pallekele on Thursday when Sri Lanka hosts New Zealand in a five-ODI series. Straight after this series, Bangladesh will host the West Indies for a five-ODI series.

While all the sides will have one eye on the ICC Champions Trophy 2013, the other eye will be on the Reliance ICC ODI Championship as the battle for the coveted number-one position remains tight.

Currently, only 17 ratings points separate the top six sides, with England and South Africa on equal points at 121. However, Alastair Cook’s side is rated above AB de Villiers’ side by a fraction of a point.

World champion India is just one rating point behind, with four-time world champion Australia trailing India by seven ratings points. 1992 world champion Pakistan is sixth, four ratings points behind Sri Lanka, while 2002 ICC Champions Trophy winner New Zealand is on 74 ratings points.

Sri Lanka will have to win the series against New Zealand starting 1 November to stay ahead of Pakistan in fifth place. A 3-2 series win for New Zealand will mean Sri Lanka will slip to 103 ratings points, one behind Pakistan, while a 5-0 series win for Sri Lanka will put it just three ratings points behind fourth-ranked Australia.

The side that tops the Championship table on the 1 April cut-off date collects a cheque of US$175,000 along with a Shield while the team that finishes second receives a cheque of US$75,000.

Reliance ICC ODI Championship

Rank    Team               Rating

1          England           121

2          South Africa    121

3          India                120

4          Australia          113

5          Sri Lanka         108

6          Pakistan           104

7          West Indies       94

8          New Zealand    74

9          Bangladesh       71

10        Zimbabwe         50

11        Ireland               35

12        Netherlands       16

13        Kenya                11

(Developed by David Kendix)

 

Reliance ICC ODI Player Rankings

Batsmen

Rank       Player                  Team      Pts          Ave       HS Ranking

1           Hashim Amla       SA           901!       59.55     901 v Eng at Trent Bridge 2012

2           Virat Kohli            Ind          858         51.81     866 v SL at Colombo (RPS) 2012

3           AB de Villiers        SA           852!       49.21     852 v Eng at Trent Bridge 2012

4           K Sangakkara      SL           773         38.72     781 v Ind at Colombo (RPS) 2012

5           Jonathan Trott     Eng         749         49.06     781 v Ind at Mumbai 2011

6           MS Dhoni              Ind          745         51.17     836 v Aus at Delhi 2009

7           Michael Clarke    Aus         718         45.48     750 v SL at Melbourne 2008

8           Alastair Cook       Eng         707         40.01     752 v Aus at Lord’s 2012

9           G Gambhir            Ind          689         40.94     722 v NZ at Vadodara 2010

10         Mike Hussey        Aus         688         48.15     857 v NZ at Perth 2007

11         S Al Hasan            Ban        683!       35.63     683 v Pak at Mirpur 2012

12        Shane Watson       Aus         680         41.48     773 v SL at Hambantota 2011

13=       Eoin Morgan        Ire/Eng   674         40.70     690 v Aus at The Oval 2010

Umar Akmal        Pak         674         38.00     702 v Afg at Sharjah 2012

15=       T Dilshan               SL           667         35.15     765 v NZ at Colombo (RPS) 2011

Brendan Taylor   Zim         667!       34.84     667 v NZ at Napier 2012

Ross Taylor          NZ          667         38.19     693 v Aus at Adelaide 2009

18         Jacques Kallis       SA           664         45.26     817 v WI at Johannesburg 2004

19         Paul Stirling           Ire           640*      39.13     650 v Sco at Edinburgh 2011

20         M Jayawardena   SL           639         33.34     738 v WI at Colombo (RPS) 2001

 

Bowlers

Rank     Player                    Team       Pts        Ave         Econ      HS Ranking

1           Saeed Ajmal         Pak         759!       23.26     4.14       759 v Aus at Sharjah 2012

2           M Hafeez              Pak         747         32.86     4.04       762 v Aus at Abu Dhabi 2012

3           L Tsotsobe            SA           690*      22.05     4.67       743 v NZ at Auckland 2012

4           R Ashwin               Ind          681         30.50     4.78       691 v SL at Hambantota 2012

5           Morne Morkel      SA           676         23.32     4.87       717 v SL at East London 2012

6           Steven Finn           Eng         668*      25.90     4.67       711 v Aus at Durham 2012

7           Graeme Swann    Eng         661         26.31     4.47       735 v Ind at Hyderabad 2011

8           S Al Hasan            Ban        655         28.85     4.29       717 v Zim at Chittagong 2009

9           Kyle Mills              NZ          647         25.99     4.69       722 v Aus at Melbourne 2009

10         Dale Steyn            SA           644         28.20     5.03       666 v Ind at Nagpur 2011

11         Abdur Razzak      Ban        637         28.12     4.48       675 v Zim at Chittagong 2010

12         Sunil Narine          WI          634*!    18.82     3.66       634 v NZ at St Kitts 2012

13         Jacob Oram          NZ          630         28.92     4.37       768 v Aus at The Oval 2004

14         Clint McKay         Aus         626*      22.40     4.68       639 v Eng at Old Trafford 2012

15         James Anderson  Eng         624         30.54     5.01       687 v Ban at Dhaka 2003

16         Tim Southee         NZ          617!       31.09     5.20       617 v WI at St Kitts 2012

17         Ray Price               Zim         614        35.75     3.94       722 v WI at Guyana 2010

18         M Johnson            Aus         611         25.52     4.85       724 v Ban at Darwin 2008

19         Shahid Afridi        Pak         605         33.69     4.60       673 v Ban at Mirpur 2011

20         L Malinga             SL           604         26.57     5.10       674 v Ban at Colombo (RPS) 2007

 

All-rounders

Rank      Player                   Team        Pts          HS Ranking

1           S Al Hasan            Ban        447        453 v Zim at Chittagong 2009

2           M Hafeez              Pak         413!       413 v Aus at Sharjah 2012

3           Shane Watson      Aus         395        433 v WI at St Lucia 2012

4           Shahid Afridi        Pak         326        383 v Ban at Mirpur 2011

5           Jacques Kallis       SA           313        506 v WI at Barbados 2001