Chance for SA to top rankings after England slump in Dubai

2012-02-07 00:00

CAPE TOWN — With Pakistan’s 3-0 Test series clean sweep over England, the Proteas have an unexpected early stab at seizing No. 1 spot on the ICC rankings.

The outcome in Dubai, where top-placed England ended three weeks of rare humiliation yesterday in losing by 71 runs, meant that Graeme Smith’s team might go to England later in the year already atop the rankings, as a 3-0 sweep of their own against New Zealand away next month will propel them a notch up from second spot.

SA play Twenty20 and one-day international ties against the Black Caps before the Test series begins in Dunedin on March 7.

New Zealand’s lowly status at eighth in the Test rankings is deceptive because they have been in good form, and SA prevailing in Dunedin and then later in Hamilton and Wellington, will not be an easy task.

But it is still a mathematical incentive for the Proteas who had not seemed likely to be in place ahead of England’s trip to the United Arab Emirates, as there had been little to suggest Andrew Strauss and company would be so emphatically dismantled. The Proteas have never lost a series to New Zealand, home or away, but they have also never managed a clean sweep victory against them of three Tests or more. Six of the last seven series between the two have been played out over three contests, with the most recent in New Zealand (2003/04) shared 1-1 with one stalemate.

 

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