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Kohli and De Villiers set to engage in battle royale

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The fight for the number-one batting position between India’s Virat Kohli and  South Africa captain AB de Villiers on the ICC Player Rankings for ODI batsmen could get exciting in the coming weeks. With only eight rating points separating number-one ranked Kohli from de Villiers, the forthcoming series offers both of them with an opportunity to either retain or reclaim the top position.

While India plays the West Indies in a three-match series from 21 November in Kochi, South Africa plays host to Pakistan in a three-match series from 24 November. The series in India finishes on 27 November and the series in South Africa finishes on 30 November. This means that both Kohli and de Villiers can potentially make the most of the home conditions in their quest.

Kohli replaced Hashim Amla as the top batsman at the end of the series against Australia in November 2013, for the first-time in his career. De Villiers, on the other hand, has been a number-one ranked batsman previously, with June 2013 being the last time he was ranked number-one.

De Villiers will enter the home series in second position after gaining three places following stellar performances against Pakistan in the UAE.

The latest player rankings was released at the end of the three-match series between Sri Lanka and New Zealand, which ended in a 1-1 deadlock. It also factors in Bangladesh’s 3-0 series win over New Zealand and South Africa’s 4-1 series win over Pakistan

The only other positive change inside the top 10 was Tillakaratne Dilshan moving up a place to seventh.

Outside the top 20, JP Duminy in 27th (up by one), Nasir Hossain in 34th (up by five), Angelo Mathews in 37th (up by two), Faf du Plessis in 45th (up by 11), David Miller in 58th (up by three) and Ahmed Shehzad in 70th (up by 13) are some of the other batsmen to move in the right direction.

Meanwhile, South Africa fast bowler Dale Steyn is back in the top 10 of the ICC Player Rankings for ODI bowlers. Steyn has moved up five positions to 10th after claiming six wickets in two ODIs against Pakistan. The other two South Africa bowlers inside the top 10 are Morne Morkel in eighth and Lonwabo Tsotsobe in ninth.

Nuwan Kulasekara has moved up two places to 16th, while Tim Southee has gained a place to figure in 20th spot.

Outside the top 20, Ryan McLaren (up by four) and Junaid Khan (up by two) are now jointly ranked 26th with Darren Sammy (up by one); Mohammad Irfan in 29th (up by three), Nathan McCullum in 35th (up by 10), Mitchell McLenaghan in 37th (up by nine), Rubel Hossain in 52nd  (up by two), Wayne Parnell in 61st (up by five), Sachitra Senanayake in 63rd (up by 19) and  Mahmudullah in 64th (up by five) are some of the others to move upwards.

Pakistan spinner Saeed Ajmal has maintained his hold on the number-one rank on the Reliance ICC Player Rankings for ODI bowlers with West Indies’ Sunil Narine in second and India’s Ravindra Jadeja in third place.