Champions Trophy: Race for No 1 begins today

Updated: 22 September 2009 10:35 IST

The race to the Number 1 One-Day side begins today when South Africa play Sri Lanka in the opening game of the ICC Champions Trophy in Centurion.

Champions Trophy: Race for No 1 begins today


The Champions Trophy begins today - with South Africa taking on Sri Lanka - the tournament though won't just be a race for a trophy but also a race for the number one spot in the ODI rankings.

In the past ten days, three teams have been the top ranked ODI side in the world. The rankings could change again today.

If Sri Lanka beat South Africa in Tuesday's opening fixture, the current number-one side will drop to the third spot allowing India to take up number one place and Australia second position.

Just a few days back, Mahendra Singh Dhoni experienced one of the proudest moments of his two-year reign as India's one-day captain when a six-wicket win over New Zealand in the Compaq Cup took Men in Blue to the top of the one-day rankings.

However, the Men in Blue's stay at the top lasted barely 24 hours. No wonder then that Dhoni's reaction in Colombo was no different from what it is in Johannesburg.

"I don't care about rankings. I don't think any cricketer who comes on the field cares about rankings," he said.

"If I turn up on the field I want to win the game not because I want to be the number 1 side in the world but because their are millions of people back home who want us to win."

So while Dhoni may have not think too much of the ranking system, but the South African's do. The Proteas are currently on top of both the Test and one-day rankings.

They have won 10 of their last 12 one-day series, which included win at home and away against World Champions Australia.

"We do not feel any pressure because we set out a long time ago to be number one in both formats of the game. It is a massive honour for us," said Graeme Smith as his team trained at the match venue.

"We are the only team bar Australia that has managed to achieve that feat. For us to be rated number one is a credit to the way we play the game," he boasted.

Smith said he was concentrating on his squad rather than worrying about Sri Lanka ahead of the first of 15 matches that will be staged over two weeks at Centurion and the larger Wanderers stadium in Johannesburg.

While Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni may say that he isn't all that bothered about the team getting to the top of the ICC's one-day rankings but the truth is that with Australia, India and South Africa breathing on each other's necks, everyone eye is on that Number 1 spot. And getting their now will be relatively easier, but staying put there will be a huge challenge for any of these three teams.

Topics : Cricket Sreesanth
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