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SA chase cash boost, Pietersen tops rankings

South Africa will have an extra incentive to beat Sri Lanka in their World Cup match on Wednesday as victory would allow them to hold on to their number one status and land them a $175 000 windfall.

South Africa would have to secure the top spot in the International Cricket Council one-day rankings by April 1 to receive the cash boost.

If the South Africans fail to beat Mahela Jayawardene’s side in the Super Eight clash and Australia defeat the West Indies on Tuesday and Bangladesh on Saturday, then Ricky Ponting’s men would regain the number-one ranking by the cut-off date.

The side that leads the standings on April 1 receives $175 000, while the second-placed team are awarded $75 000.

Graeme Smith’s men toppled Australia from the top for the first time last month after the world champions lost five matches in a row in a sudden slump of form.

South Africa hold a fraction of a point advantage in the rankings despite their defeat by Australia on Saturday. When rounded off they both have 126 points.

Successful run

In the players’ list, Kevin Pietersen became only the third England batman to lead the rankings after overtaking Australia Michael Hussey.

Pietersen has enjoyed a successful run at the World Cup so far with a total of 121 runs at an average of 60,50, including half-centuries against New Zealand and Kenya in group C.

Marcus Trescothick and Allan Lamb were the two other England players to have topped the batting standings.

He is followed by Australia captain Ricky Ponting, while Hussey dropped to third after failing to get out of single figures in three innings at the World Cup.

South Africa’s Shaun Pollock retains the top spot in bowling but Shane Bond of New Zealand has climbed to equal second with Sri Lanka spinner Muttiah Muralitharan.

Pollock was uncharacteristically expensive against Australia but still maintained a 155-point advantage over Bond and Muralitharan.

Pollock also leads the all-rounders’ list with West Indian Chris Gayle in second and England’s Andrew Flintoff third. — Reuters

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