Indian players celebrate after beating New Zealand in the 3rd ODI and winning the series 3-0, at Holkar cricket stadium in Indore on January 24 | ANI Photo

India’s series success against New Zealand meant they climbed to the top of the ICC ODI rankings. The hosts whitewashed the Kiwis 3-0 in the series in what was a dominant performance from Rohit Sharma’s side.

It has been an excellent start to 2023 for India as they have won all six of their ODI assignments. They began the new year with a 3-0 success over Sri Lanka. New Zealand were then expected to give them a tougher test, but the home side once again played the conditions better against the NZC team in the series.

The new number-one ranked team in the standings are not in ODI action again until March when they will face Australia in a three-game series. Their rivals are in second place behind them in the world rankings, so it will be an important series for both teams.

India have a strong pool of players to choose from in limited-overs cricket and their team selection over the last six months has been very good. Shubman Gill has strengthened the top of their batting line-up, while Suryakumar Yadav shone for the BCCI team in 2022.

As well as a strong batting line-up that runs deep, India have a bowling attack that causes teams many problems. Mohammed Siraj is now the number one-ranked bowler in the ODI rankings, while Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal give Sharma lots of options with the ball.

Cricket world cup the chance to cement top spot

With the Cricket World Cup set to be held in India in 2023, this year is a big opportunity for the ICC’s number one-ranked ODI team to cement their place at the top of the world rankings.

India’s record on home soil is very strong, as they have shown in early 2023. They have won their last five consecutive series at home, while the last team to beat them in an ODI series was Australia in 2019.

The 2011 World Cup winners will be very familiar with the pitches during the biggest tournament in the sport later this year. They have already qualified as the hosts. They will be joined by Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, England, Pakistan and New Zealand, while two other places remain up for grabs, with South Africa and the West Indies the most likely to secure those.

Australia go into this year’s tournament as the most successful World Cup team in history. They have lifted the trophy five times. England are the defending champions, after prevailing at Lord’s in 2019 following victory over New Zealand in the final, while India and the West Indies are bidding for their third success in the event in 2023.

Strong challengers to India in 2023

South Africa have also made an excellent start to 2023 with a home series victory over England. Rassie van der Dussen was the star in the opening ICC ODI of the series, while captain Temba Bavuma scored a century in his side’s second ODI success which sealed the series win.

It has been a successful January for South Africa as the country also saw the launch of the franchise T20 league, SA20. That league should help their domestic players gain experience against the leading players in white-ball cricket. Pretoria Capitals have got off to a great start in the inaugural league, and as of the 29th of January, they are 39/20 favourites in the SA20 betting to win the trophy.

Australia showed their class against England at the back of 2022 by beating their rivals 3-0 in a three-match home series, as documented in the BBC match report. That came just after England’s success at the T20 World Cup in the country.

The likes of Steven Smith, Marnus Labuschagne and Tim David have been starring at the 2022/23 Big Bash competition in their home country. Australia will be hoping they can carry that form into the 50 overs game for the Baggy Greens in 2023.

Pakistan were runners-up in the 2022 Asia Cup in the UAE in what was a good year in T20 cricket. They are set to meet New Zealand in a five-match series in April. If they can come out on top in that series, it will do their rankings no harm ahead of the World Cup.

India have shown that the 50-overs game remains very important to them, even if T20 cricket is now the more lucrative format. If they can continue their hot form across the year, they may end 2023 as one of the most dominant ODI teams in the history of the game.

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