Cricket World Cup

Historic team rankings favour India and Pakistan at World Cup

MRF Tyres ICC Rankings

By Jonathan Healy

Hit For Six!

India's recent run of form in 50-over cricket means Rohit Sharma's side will start this year's ICC Men's Cricket World Cup as the No.1 ranked side on the MRF Tyres ODI Team Rankings.

India have lost just four of the 20 ODI matches they have contested in 2023 and as a result cannot be overtaken as the top-ranked side on the team rankings before the World Cup begins on October 5.

While Pakistan's rating of 115 is just two rating points behind India's, these two places are set in stone up until the start of the World Cup regardless of the outcome of any remaining fixtures between now and the commencement of the six-week tournament. 

The warm-up fixtures that are scheduled to take place prior to the World Cup are not counted as official ODI matches and do not alter the team rankings.

An historical look at past World Cups shows this could be a good sign for both India and Pakistan, with every edition of the tournament since 1999 having been won by sides that have occupied the top two places on the ODI rankings at the start of the event.

Australia were ranked second when winning a second title in England in 1999 and then occupied top spot on the rankings when claiming the coveted World Cup trophy in South Africa in 2003 and in the West Indies in 2007.

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Similarly, India held the No.2 ranking when victorious on home soil in 2011 and Australia (2015) and England (2019) were the No.1 ranked sides when they proved too strong in the two most recent editions of the 50-over showcase.

While the ICC applied their ratings system to results that dated back to 1981, there was not enough data available to apply these ratings to results prior to this year due to infrequency of matches and the small number of competing teams. 

As a result, there are no rankings available for the first two editions of the World Cup in 1975 and 1979.

The ranking of every World Cup winner since 1983
The ranking of every World Cup winner since 1983

Another good sign for India is the recent domination of host countries at the World Cup.

The three most recent World Cups have been won by countries that hosted the World Cup Final and India will get their chance to keep that trend going when the 2023 decider is held at Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on November 19.

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And while all the pressure will be on India as the sole host of the World Cup this year and current holder of the premier ODI ranking, Rohit's side can take further confidence in the performance of No.1 ranked sides at previous editions of the tournament.

Only once has the top-ranked team failed to make it through to the knockout stages of the event - Australia narrowly missed on qualifying for the semi-finals in 1992 - and the side with the No.1 ranking has made it through to the tournament decider on seven of the most recent 10 occasions.

The finishing positions of No.1 ranked teams at previous editions of the World Cup
The finishing positions of No.1 ranked teams at previous editions of the World Cup


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