The baton of No. 1 Test batsman in the world has changed hands between Virat Kohli and Steven Smith once again, with India’s Kohli surpassing Australia’s Smith following a century in his team’s inaugural day-night Test in Kolkata. While Kohli enjoyed that success against Bangladesh, Smith failed to go past 36 in Australia’s home Tests against Pakistan, resulting in the swap at the top.
On the other hand, David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne, who were in red hot form against Pakistan, moved up to No. 5 and No. 8 respectively.
Warner compiled the second highest score for Australia in Test cricket, going past Allan Border’s 334 in Adelaide, finishing on 335 not out as Australia declared their innings closed. Only fellow opener Matthew Hayden has a higher score for Australia: 380, against Zimbabwe in 2003. Warner’s mammoth innings followed a knock of 154 by him in the first Test of the series, in Brisbane, resulting in him jumping 12 places up the rankings overall.
Labuschagne, meanwhile, was ranked as low as 110 at the start of 2019. His year took a dramatic turn when he became Test cricket’s first concussion sub during the Lord’s Test of Ashes, slotting into the game in place of Smith – who had taken a blow to the helmet from Jofra Archer – and going on to score a match-saving, last-day 59. That won him a place in the XI even when Smith returned, and he produced scores of 74, 80, 67, 11, 48 and 14 through the rest of the Ashes. His best was yet to come, though. In the home Tests against Pakistan, both innings victories, Labuschagne scored 185 and 162, completing a sensational charge into Test cricket’s top ten batsmen.
The Smith-Kohli race to No. 1 has been in overdrive ever since the former returned for his ball-tampering ban in mid 2019 and went on to have a stunning Ashes campaign. Smith had toppled Kohli during that series, in September, before Kohli scored a double-hundred against South Africa to return to within one rating point of Smith. Now, as things stand, Kohli is five ratings points clear of Smith. Smith will have the chance to overtake him once again when Australia take on New Zealand at home from December 12. India do not play Test cricket again till they tour New Zealand early next year.
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