Dubai: Australia have a chance to reclaim the top spot in the ICC Test Team Rankings when they face host Pakistan in the two-Test series in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which starts on Wednesday in the Dubai International Cricket Stadium here.
A two-nil series win over Pakistan will lift Michael Clarke's charges to the top of the summit - one point clear of South Africa, who currently hold top spot. A one-nil series victory will move Australia to join South Africa level on 124 points, but the Proteas will continue to hold the slenderest of 0.24 of an advantage. (Pakistan have a chance to leapfrog India in Test rankings)
In contrast, a one-nil victory for sixth-place Pakistan, who currently lie level on points with India, will move up two ratings places to fourth, while a 2-0 win will push them even further up the ladder into third place, 12 points behind Australia, who will lose further ground on South Africa.
Even a 1-1 draw will see Pakistan edge clear of India, while Australia will slip three points behind the leaders.
Australia were most recently the number-one ranked Test side between May and July 2014, before South Africa overtook them. Before then, Australia last held top spot since the new rankings system was introduced in 2002 until August 2009.
In the ICC Player Rankings for Test Batsmen, Australia will be looking to the fit-again Clarke (seventh) and their top-ranked batsman David Warner (fifth) to lay the platform in its innings.
Pakistan's Misbah-ul-Haq is sitting in 10th position and Younus Khan is 11th with both batsmen separate by just three ratings points and aiming to maintain an upward trajectory.
In the ICC Players Rankings for Test Bowlers, Australia currently has three bowlers well-positioned to improve their ratings.
In the absence of number-two ranked Ryan Harris, left-arm paceman Mitchell Johnson, who is currently ranked in fourth place, has Sri Lanka's Rangana Herath in his sights as he aims to shave the seven-point deficit. Johnson is joined in the top 20 by team-mates Peter Siddle (12th) and off-spinner Nathan Lyon (18th).