West Indies captain, Gayle blows away the competition

DUBAI, Uae – West Indies captain Chris Gayle has stormed his way back to the number one place in the Reliance Mobile ICC Player Rankings for ODI batsmen after a series of fine performances against New Zealand.

The 29-year-old Jamaican has gained five places in the rankings to knock India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Australia’s Michael Hussey down to second and third place.

Gayle managed an impressive 135 off 129 balls – including nine fours and five sixes – in the final ODI against New Zealand in Napier and although his side lost the match there was some consolation in his elevation to the position of number-one ODI batsman in the world.

The big left-hander was last ranked number one nearly five years ago (in April 2004) but he has not been out of the top 20 since the middle of 2002.

Chris Gayle….on top of the world

Gayle’s ascension sees the likes of South Africa’s Graeme Smith and India’s Yuvraj Singh slip down the rankings, with Smith, currently ranked fifth, likely to fall even further with injury forcing him out of the upcoming Australia v South Africa five-match series due to start on Friday 16 January.

However, Hussey has the opportunity to push back up the rankings from third with the upcoming series against South Africa. Also aiming to clamber back up the rankings will be Hussey’s captain, Ricky Ponting, currently occupying seventh position in the table. A return to the top five is not out of the question for the Tasmanian.

South Africa’s AB de Villiers will also be looking to improve his current ranking of 14. The 24-year-old is currently struggling with a bruised hip but will be looking to take part in the first ODI in Melbourne on Friday.

De Villiers’ in-form team-mate Jean-Paul Duminy will also be eyeing a higher spot in the rankings. Duminy, currently ranked 43rd, has had an extremely good run with the bat in Australia and has the potential to climb the rankings in the coming weeks.

In the Reliance Mobile ICC Player Rankings for ODI bowlers, New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori has slipped from the number one spot to second. Vettori briefly went top after a good start to the ODI series with the West Indies but his 0-45 in the final match in Napier has meant he has lost his place by the narrowest of margins.

Australia’s Nathan Bracken has replaced Vettori at the top of the rankings and will be looking to strengthen his hold at the head of the table as he prepares for the South Africa series. Bracken and Vettori are only separated by a single point and if Bracken performs well in the coming weeks there is potential for him to further cement his lead.

Meanwhile, Bracken’s team-mate Mitchell Johnson has gained one place to go fourth in the rankings and if he performs well against South Africa he, too, has the opportunity to leapfrog Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralidaran in third place.

It is better news for Muralidaran’s team-mate, Nuwan Kulasekara, who has broken into the top 10 for the first time in his career. The 26-year-old had been playing for his side in the tri-series against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe taking 3-13 against Zimbabwe on 12 January in Dhaka and gaining seven places in the process to take sixth spot.

Zimbabwe’s captain Prosper Utseya has returned to the top 20 after taking 2-22 against Bangladesh and 1-28 against Sri Lanka in his side’s recent involvement in the tri-series in Dhaka.

Bangladesh’s Saqibul Hasan has gained four places on the rankings to go 23rd and has a chance to improve his ranking further when the hosts face Sri Lanka in the final match of the series today.

Back in New Zealand, Mark Gillespie has gained 12 places in the rankings to go 37th after taking match figures in the final ODI against the West Indies of 4-58.

Looking ahead to Friday when Australia will face South Africa, the Proteas’ Makhaya Ntini will be hoping to be in the starting line-up at the MCG. The 31-year-old fast bowler is hovering close to the top 20, currently occupying 27th spot in the table. Captain Johan Botha will also be looking to improve on his current ranking of 32nd in the table.

In the Reliance Mobile ICC Player Rankings for all-rounders, Gayle has increased his ranking by one to take fourth place, forcing South Africa’s Jacques Kallis into fifth spot.

However, there is no change in the leaders of the all-rounders, with New Zealand’s Jacob Oram in first place and England’s Andrew Flintoff in second.

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