South Africa batsman Hashim Amla has an opportunity to claim the number-one ranking on the International Cricket Council (ICC) Player Rankings for Test batsmen for the first time in his career when he takes to the field against Pakistan in the first Test of the three-match series in Johannesburg from Thursday.
Amla is currently just one ratings point behind Australia's number-one ranked Michael Clarke, and he leads third-ranked Shivnarine Chanderpaul of the West Indies by seven points.
While a strong performance will put Amla ahead of the Australian, a failure can potentially drop him in the player rankings, which will next be updated at the conclusion of the Johannesburg Test.
Apart from Amla, a number of players will be aiming to make upward movements. These include team-mate AB de Villiers (sixth), Jacques Kallis (seventh), Younus Khan (ninth), Azhar Ali (11th), Graeme Smith in (12th) and Misbah-ul-Haq (13th).
The bowlers' table is headed by South Africa spearhead Dale Steyn, who is currently just five ratings points away from breaking the 900 ratings points barrier for the second time in his career.
Steyn last achieved the magical 900-point mark in November 2011 after his efforts of four for 55 and two for 23 in the Cape Town Test against Australia, to become only the second South Africa bowler after Shaun Pollock to achieve the rare distinction.
In rankings terms, 900 or more ratings points means a player is truly outstanding, a benchmark for the very top bowlers.
Among other bowlers within the top 20 and expected to be in action during the series are Vernon Philander (second), Saeed Ajmal (third), Morne Morkel (eighth), Abdur Rehman (11th) and Umar Gul (19th).
First Published: January 30, 2013, 11:55 pm