As India continue grapple with performance woes on foreign conditions, there is an unexpected source of motivation to help them stay alive in the five-match series against New Zealand. Despite losing their No.1 ranking in ODIs to Australia after their second successive defeat to New Zealand in Hamilton on Wednesday, India have a chance to be back on top if England manage to break the shackles and record a win in the fourth ODI against Australia in Perth on Friday. (New Zealand take 2-0 lead, India lose No. 1 ranking)
However, even if Australia lose, India's stay at the top could be short-lived if they fail to register their first win against the Kiwis in the third ODI in Auckland on Saturday. If India win, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Co. will remain on top.
India, under Dhoni's captaincy, was the No.1 ODI side since January 2013 after displacing England at the top. As for Australia, their previous spell at the helm lasted from September 2009 to August 2012. At the moment, just 1 rating point separates the top two sides with Australia on 118 and India on 117.
The scenario is interesting for both camps. A chance to return to the top could inspire Dhoni & Co. to open their win account in New Zealand and, as for Australia's opponents England, the fact that a win could knock their arch-nemesis off the perch could prove to be a trigger for a change in their misfortunes Down Under.