Aussies slip-up to cost them in ODI rankings
CRICKET: Australia is in danger of giving up top spot on the International Cricket Council's one-day international rankings.
Beaten 2-0 by New Zealand in the Chappell-Hadlee series, Australia has slipped to a rating of 118 points, just a fraction of a point ahead of South Africa.
And the South Africans are short odds to usurp the Australians on the table this month.
Currently leading Sri Lanka 3-0 in a five-match ODI series, if the Proteas take out games four and five they will move to 119 points.
New Zealand has leapfrogged India to third after reclaiming the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy with a 24-run win over Australia on Sunday.
Having once had a stranglehold on top spot, Australia's grip has loosened significantly after seven straight defeats away from home in the format.
Last October, Cricket Australia sent a weakened squad across to South Africa and Steve Smith's men went on to lose 5-0.
Lacking the rested Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc - who also suffered a horror shin laceration before the series - Australia's new-look attack was put to the sword.
Stars and Hazlewood were both on duty for the tour of New Zealand, however, with all three of David Warner (rested), Steve Smith (injured) and Usman Khawaja absent, Australia's batting order was significantly weakened.
Khawaja, who has been in and out of Australia's ODI XI over the last 12 months, was sent to Dubai to prepare for the February-March Test tour of India.
India has not lost a Test at home since 2012, and if Virat Kohli's men defeat Bangladesh later this week then it will take a 4-0 Border-Gavaskar loss for them to lose top spot on the Test rankings to Australia.
Conversely, if the Australians lose the series by more than a Test they will slip to third on the Test rankings, below South Africa.