Virat Kohli and Bhuvneshwar Kumar are India's highest-ranked batsman and bowler in third and 13th positions...
Virat Kohli and Bhuvneshwar Kumar are India’s highest-ranked batsman and bowler in third and 13th positions respectively with the defending champions entering the 11th edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup as the second-ranked side on the ODI Team Rankings.
Other India batsmen to feature inside the top 25 include Shikhar Dhawan (seventh), Dhoni (ninth), Rohit Sharma (13th) and Suresh Raina (25th).
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Apart from Kumar, India boasts Ravindra Jadeja (14th), Ravichandran Ashwin (21st) and Mohammad Shami (24th) inside the top 25.
A lot will be on line as only 26 ratings points separate the top eight-ranked ODI sides with Australia launching its campaign to win its fifth ICC Cricket World Cup title as the number one ranked side on the ODI Team Rankings.
Australia enjoys a comfortable six-point advantage over its closest rival and defending champion India, which squares off against traditional rival and seventh-ranked Pakistan at the Oval here.
Interestingly, Australia had also started as the top-ranked side in the 2011 World Cup in the subcontinent. But it was Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s side that lifted the trophy in Mumbai after entering the competition in second position and 12 ratings points behind Australia.
Australia will feature on the opening day of the event on Saturday in Melbourne when it locks horns with arch-rivals England, which currently sits in fifth position, while co-host and sixth-ranked New Zealand will open the showpiece event with a clash with former champion and fourth-placed Sri Lanka, who are just five ratings points adrift.
On Sunday, in Hamilton, third-ranked South Africa takes on continental rival Zimbabwe, which is currently sitting in 10th position and trailing the title favourites by 55 ratings points.
Two-time former champion and eight-ranked West Indies will meet 12th-ranked Ireland in Nelson on Monday with 60 ratings points separating the two sides.
Australia has the home advantage this time around. It is also enjoying a winning momentum, having won 17 ODIs with just five defeats and one no-result since January last year.
However, this dominance is not as strongly reflected in the ICC ODI Players Rankings which includes five Australia batsmen (George Bailey (11th), Aaron Finch (12th), Glenn Maxwell (17th), Shane Watson (19th) and James Faulkner (22nd)) and two bowlers (Mitchell Johnson (fifth) and Mitchell Starc (7th)) inside the top 25.
Australia batsmen sitting just outside the top 25 are captain Michael Clarke (27th), David Warner (28th) and Steven Smith (29th).
South Africa also has a notable presence in the Reliance ICC ODI Player Rankings.
Captain AB de Villiers leads the batting table, closely followed by Hashim Amla with Quinton de Kock (10th) and Faf du Plessis (20th). Dale Steyn will start as the highest-ranked bowler in the bowler in tournament in third position, followed by Morne Morkel (10th) and Imran Tahir (11th).
New Zealand has played 14 ODIs in last two months and has won nine matches, which is reflected in the Player Rankings with Kane Williamson (6th) and Ross Taylor (8th) featuring in the top 10 of batting table and Kyle Mills (20th) and Daniel Vettori (23rd) occupying positions inside the top 25 bowlers.
Joe Root is England’s highest-ranked batsman in 14th position, while James Anderson is sitting in fifth position on the bowlers’ chart. Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq is his country’s highest-ranked batsman in 14th position, while 15th-ranked Mohammad Irfan will spearhead the bowling attack.
Sri Lanka’s old war horses, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardena, who will retire at the end of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, will begin in fourth and 22nd position, respectively, with Tillakaratne Dilshan (fifth) and captain Angelo Mathews (16th) sitting between the two batting stars. Rangana Herath (eighth), Sachithra Senanayake (17th) and Mathews (22nd) are the top-ranked Sri Lanka bowlers.
Among the four qualifiers, Ireland’s Paul Stirling will start as the highest-ranked batsman in 36th position, while Afghanistan captain Mohammad Nabi is the highest-ranked bowler and all-rounder in 31st and eighth spots, respectively.