Series win sees Harbhajan up the order

Harbhajan Singh was rewarded for his bowling prowess in the recently concluded India-Australia series, as he moved up to the 7th spot in the rankings.

updated: November 12, 2008 17:53 IST
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New Delhi:

Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh on Tuesday was rewarded for his bowling prowess in the recently concluded India-Australia series, as he moved up to the career-best seventh spot in the ICC rankings for Test bowlers.

Harbhajan, who was at the ninth position, gained two places to become seventh, the highest ranking the spin bowler has enjoyed since 2003.

The 28-year-old took seven wickets in the fourth Test against Australia at Nagpur and, as a result, has moved past Chaminda Vaas of Sri Lanka and Pakistan's Shoaib Akhtar but is still well behind the next highest placed Ryan Sidebottom of England and also Australia's Brett Lee, who had a disappointing series by his standards taking eight wickets at an average of 61.62.

Harbhajan's batting impressed in this series. His 18 not out and 52 at Nagpur pushed him six places up to 87th spot in the rankings for Test batsmen and two places to 11th in the all-rounders' list.

However, India's pace spearhead Zaheer Khan lost three places following the Nagpur Test and is placed 18th. The left-arm pacer took just one wicket for 125 runs in the fourth Test as his new-ball partner Ishant Sharma continued to shine at the other end.

Sharma is up six places to 30th position after taking another four wickets in the match and being named as the player of the series. It is the first time the 20-year-old has broken into the top 30 during his short career to date.

Leg-spinner Amit Mishra, who made his debut in the series against the world-champions, is placed 43rd, a remarkable showing considering he has played just three Tests.

His Australian spin counterpart, Jason Krejza also shot straight to 49th position after taking 12 wickets on debut at Nagpur. Only two bowlers - Bob Massie (16-137) for Australia against England at Lord's in 1972 and Narendra Hirwani (16-136) for India in 1988 against the West Indies at what was then called Madras - have taken more wickets on debut than the 25-year-old New South Welshman.

Mind you, only one bowler in history - Tommy Scott of the West Indies (9-374 against England at his home ground of Sabina Park, Jamaica in 1930) - has conceded more runs in a match than the 358 Krejza gave up at Nagpur.

Krejza's team-mate Mitchell Johnson has dropped three places to 31st position, meaning Australia now has only two bowlers in the top 30 - Lee and third-placed Stuart Clark - the first time for more than 20 years that has happened.

The bowling rankings continue to be headed by Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralidaran, followed by South Africa's Dale Steyn in second place and Clark.

In the batting rankings Sachin Tendulkar continued his current patch of good form registering his 40th Test century at that match in Nagpur. The Little Master gained three places in the process and now sits in 16th position just behind Australia vice-captain Michael Clarke, who lost one place to 15th , and England's Alastair Cook, who is in the England squad to face India in two Tests next month.

Virender Sehwag moved up two places to 11th spot after scoring 66 and 92 in the match and is now very close behind Jacques Kallis of South Africa (in 10th place) and Matthew Hayden of Australia (in ninth place).

West Indies' Shivnarine Chanderpaul still tops the batting list followed very closely by Kumar Sangakkara of Sri Lanka in second place.

Australia captain Ricky Ponting slipped two places to seventh in the rankings and is out of the top five for the first time since 2004. The Tasmanian scored a century in the first innings of the first Test of the four-match series but since then has averaged only 23.83 and with competition fierce at the top of the player rankings, that has led to his speedy slide down the list.