BLACKCAPS hunting top four

The BLACKCAPS have the chance to make up ground on the top four sides in the ICC Test Championship table when they start their three-match series against South Africa at Centurion on Saturday.

The tourists and the Proteas are lying side-by-side in mid-table, with just three rating points between them.

However, the fifth-placed BLACKCAPS are eight points behind Pakistan, the side immediately above them.

The New Zealanders can close that gap with a series victory, and if they win all three matches they will reduce it to just two points.

South Africa, of course, will have other plans and there is plenty on offer for them if they can win the series.

Any success will see them leapfrog their guests and move into fifth place themselves. If they win all three Tests they will have 102 rating points, seven behind Pakistan.

Stephen Fleming goes into a national record 100th Test in 20th spot in the batting rankings, one ahead of Herschelle Gibbs (21st).

Fleming is also in advance of opposite number Graeme Smith (24th), who missed the final Test of the recent series against Australia because of a hand injury.

Shane Bond (9th) and Daniel Vettori (19th) are the BLACKCAPS’ leading bowlers, while the vice-captain is fifth in the ICC Player Rankings for Test all-rounders, trailing South Africans Jacques Kallis (first) and Shaun Pollock (third).

ICC Test Championship
(Ahead of the South Africa v BLACKCAPS series)
1 Australia 131
2 England 113
3 India 111
4 Pakistan 109
5 New Zealand 101
6 South Africa 98
7 Sri Lanka 95
8 West Indies 72
9 Zimbabwe 27
10 Bangladesh 4

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