Ravindra Jadeja has overtaken R Ashwin at the top of the ICC Test rankings for bowlers, after taking nine wickets against Australia in the third Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Cheteshwar Pujara was also a major gainer as his 202 off 525 balls propelled him above Virat Kohli to become the top-ranked India batsman in Tests. He was at No. 2, behind Australia captain Steven Smith.
Although the Ranchi Test was drawn, at the end of the fourth day, the hosts had seemed in quite a dominant position thanks to these two players. Pujara, by facing more balls than any other Indian (where data is available) in Tests, secured a whopping 152-run lead though Australia had put up 451. It was the third double-century of his career, second against Australia, and it helped him continue a rich vein of form in the 2016-17 home season – 1259 runs at 66.26 with four hundreds and seven fifties.
Jadeja, meanwhile, has outbowled his closest competitor Ashwin in the first innings this season – a sign that he was becoming a threat even without the pitch helping him too much. In all, Jadeja has taken 67 wickets at 22.98 with four five-wicket hauls in 24 innings. The changes he has made to his bowling, namely the ability to draw batsmen forward with flighted deliveries, as opposed to his usual method of bowling darts to get bowleds and lbws have made a strong impact. Kohli, at the end of the Ranchi Test, singled out Jadeja as “standing apart” from the rest of his bowlers.
Smith consolidated his place at the top of the rankings with scores of 178* and 21 in Ranchi. Smith has 941 rating points is now joint-fifth highest ever with Peter May. Only Don Bradman (961), Len Hutton (945), Jack Hobbs and Ricky Ponting (942) have ever got more.
India will hold on to their position at the top of the rankings at the April 1 deadline for a cash award of $1 million. Australia and South Africa, on the other hand, have a chance to take over the second position. If Smith’s men at least draw the upcoming Dharamsala Test, they will finish at No. 2. South Africa can take over if Australia lose, and they either draw or win the Hamilton Test against New Zealand. The team that finishes second will be awarded $500,000 and the third-placed team will get $200,000.