Top ranked Kohli feeling the heat from Williamson

iccKane Williamson has become the first New Zealand batsman and 32nd overall to break the 900-point barrier in the MRF Tyres ICC Player Rankings for Test Batsmen following a stellar performance in the third Test against Pakistan, which helped his side to win their first away series against the Asian side in 49 years. 

Williamson scored 89 and 139 in Abu Dhabi last week, which set up New Zealand’s convincing 123-run victory over Pakistan. This performance not only helped Williamson to win the Player of the Match award but also earn 37 points in the latest player rankings, which, in turn, has allowed him to leapfrog Australia’s Steve Smith into second position on a career-high 913 points. 

Richard Hadlee, ICC’s Cricket Hall of Famer, is the only other New Zealand player – with bat or ball – to reach the 900-point mark in the ICC Test rankings. He reached 909 points with the ball following his five for 65 and six for 90 against Australia in Perth in November-December 1985. 

As such, Williamson’s 913 points is also the highest points tally to date for New Zealand and he is sandwiched between Ken Barrington (914 points) and Brian Lara (911 points) in 27th position in the all-time list of highest batting-wise ranking points.

While Williamson shone with the bat in Abu Dhabi and was richly rewarded, number-one ranked Virat Kohli managed only three and 34 in his side’s impressive 31-run victory over Australia at the picturesque Adelaide Oval.

As a result, Kohli has conceded 15 points to slip to 920 points, just seven points ahead of Williamson.

With Williamson breathing down Kohli’s neck, the India captain will be under pressure to perform strongly with the bat in the second Test starting in Perth from Friday otherwise he will potentially lose the number-one ranking he has been holding since the Edgbaston Test against England in August.

There was further good news for New Zealand, whose Henry Nicholls has broken into the top 10 for the first time in his career. Nicholls scored 126 not out in the second innings and stitched up a 212-run fifth wicket partnership with Williamson as New Zealand set Pakistan a 280-run target after having conceded a 74-run first innings lead. 

For this performance, Nicholls has jumped from 17th to ninth by rising eight places to become his side’s second batsman inside the top-10. BJ Watling has also made an upward movement and is now ranked 22nd after gaining four places. 

Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq, who scored centuries for Pakistan in the first innings, have made small gains. Azhar has moved up two places to 10th, while Asad is now 21st after rising one place. 

And speaking of the centurions, how can one forget Cheteshwar Pujara, whose knocks of 123 and 71 were the cornerstone of India’s victory. Pujara has now moved ahead of Joe Root and David Warner in the fourth position. He trails third-ranked Smith by 55 points and leads Root by 39 points. 

India fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah has achieved a career-high ranking of 33rd, after his three for 47 and three for 68 helped him to rise five places. 

Nathan Lyon of Australia, who took eight wickets in the Test, has consolidated his 14th position while reducing the gap with 13th ranked Neil Wagner from 34 points to eight points. 

The other two notable movers from the Adelaide Test are Ajinkya Rahane in 17th (up by two places) and Mitchell Starc in 16th (up by two places). 

Amongst the newcomers, Australia’s Marcus Harris has entered in 116th batting position, while amongst the bowlers, off-spinner William Somerville of New Zealand has emerged in 63rd spot and Pakistan fast bowler Shaheen Afridi has popped up in 111th place. 

The MRF Tyres ICC Test Player Rankings will now be updated following the conclusion of the Perth Test. 

 

MRF Tyres ICC Test Player Rankings (as on 11 December, following the conclusion of the Adelaide and Abu Dhabi Tests) 

BATSMEN (top 20) 

Rank    (+/-)      Player              Team   Points  Avge    Highest Rating

   1         ( - )        Virat Kohli            Ind         920        53.96    937 v Eng at Southampton 2018

   2         (+1)        Kane Williamson  NZ         913!      51.56    913 v Pak at Abu Dhabi 2018

   3         (-1)        Steve Smith         Aus        901        61.37    947 v SA at Durban 2018

   4         (+2)        C. Pujara             Ind         846        50.48    888 v SL at Nagpur 2017

   5         (-1)        Joe Root              Eng        807        50.44    917 v Aus at Trent Bridge 2015

   6         (-1)        David Warner       Aus        795        48.20    880 v NZ at Perth 2015

   7         ( - )        D. Karunaratne    SL          753        37.60    754 v SA at Colombo (SSC) 2018

   8         ( - )        Dean Elgar          SA         724        41.05    784 v Aus at Johannesburg 2018

   9         (+8)        Henry Nicholls      NZ         709*!     39.20    709 v Pak at Abu Dhabi 2018

  10        (+2)        Azhar Ali              Pak        708        44.88    787 v Aus at Melbourne 2016

  11        (-2)        Aiden Markram    SA         703*      47.27    759 v Aus at Johannesburg 2018

  12        (-1)        D. Chandimal       SL          695        44.28    755 v Win at St Lucia 2018

  13        (-3)        Usman Khawaja   Aus        677        42.94    747 v Pak at Sydney 2017

  14        ( - )        Hashim Amla       SA         673        47.23    907 v Pak at Abu Dhabi 2013

  15        ( - )        Faf du Plessis      SA         665        42.33    734 v Ind at Centurion 2018

  16        (-3)        Ross Taylor         NZ         658        46.08    871 v Win at Hamilton 2013

  17=      (-1)        Jonny Bairstow    Eng        653        37.71    772 v SA at Old Trafford 2017

              (+2)        Ajinkya Rahane    Ind         653        41.40    825 v NZ at Indore 2016

  19        (-1)        Jos Buttler           Eng        635!      36.76    635 v SL at Colombo (SSC) 2018

  20        ( - )        Kusal Mendis       SL          627        36.11    693 v Win at St Lucia 2018

 

BOWLERS (top 20)

 

Rank     (+/-)       Player                 Team     Points   Avge     Highest Rating

   1         ( - )        Kagiso Rabada    SA         882        21.71    902 v Aus at Port Elizabeth 2018

   2         ( - )        James Anderson  Eng        874        26.98    903 v Ind at Lord's 2018

   3         (+1)        Vernon Philander SA         826        21.54    912 v Ind at Johannesburg 2013

   4         (-1)        M. Abbas             Pak        821*      16.62    838 v NZ at Abu Dhabi 2018

   5         ( - )        Ravindra Jadeja   Ind         804        23.50    899 v Aus at Ranchi 2017

   6         (+1)        R. Ashwin            Ind         786        25.43    904 v Eng at Mumbai 2016

   7         (-1)        Pat Cummins       Aus        770*      24.64    800 v SA at Johannesburg 2018

   8         ( - )        Trent Boult           NZ         764        28.14    825 v Eng at Lord's 2015

   9         ( - )        Yasir Shah           Pak        757        28.26    878 v Eng at Lord's 2016

  10        ( - )        Jason Holder       Win        751*      28.50    766 v Ind at Hyderabad 2018

  11        ( - )        Josh Hazlewood   Aus        749        26.76    863 v Ind at Bengaluru 2017

  12        ( - )        Shannon Gabriel  Win        742        29.73    757 v Ban at Jamaica 2018

  13        ( - )        Neil Wagner         NZ         733        28.49    785 v Win at Wellington 2017

  14        ( - )        Nathan Lyon        Aus        725        32.05    774 v Eng at Adelaide 2017

  15        (-1)        Tim Southee        NZ         706        30.70    799 v Win at Jamaica 2014

  16        (+2)        Mitchell Starc       Aus        699        28.31    805 v SA at Durban 2018

  17        (-1)        Mehidy Hasan      Ban        696*!     29.78    696 v Win at Dhaka 2018

  18        (-1)        Stuart Broad        Eng        694        29.04    880 v SA at Johannesburg 2016

  19        ( - )        Keshav Maharaj   SA         692*      27.65    695 v Zim at Port Elizabeth 2017

  20        ( - )        Dilruwan Perera   SL          689!      31.49    689 v Eng at Colombo (SSC) 2018

 

ALL-ROUNDERS (top five)

 

Rank     (+/-)       Player                 Team     Points   Highest Rating

   1         ( - )        Shakib Al Hasan  Ban        415       489 v Aus at Mirpur 2017

   2         ( - )        Ravindra Jadeja   Ind         392       438 v SL at Colombo (SSC) 2017

   3         ( - )        Vernon Philander SA         370       378 v SL at Galle 2018

   4         ( - )        Jason Holder       Win        365 /*    381 v Ind at Hyderabad 2018

   5         ( - )        Ben Stokes          Eng        342       396 v Win at Lord's 2017

 

*indicates provisional rating; a batsman qualifies for a full rating after playing 40 Test innings; a bowler qualifies for a full rating when he reaches 100 Test wickets.

!indicates the career-highest rating