With only four losses out of 20 ODI matches in 2023, India has secured its position as the top-ranked team heading into the World Cup, which kicks off on October 5. Despite Pakistan’s impressive rating of 115, just two points behind India, both teams’ rankings are locked in until the World Cup begins, irrespective of any remaining matches’ outcomes.
World Cup Warm-Up Matches Don’t Affect Rankings
It’s worth noting that the warm-up matches scheduled before the World Cup do not count as official ODI matches and, therefore, do not impact the team rankings.
Historical Trends Favor Top-Ranked Teams
Historical data from past World Cups suggests that both India and Pakistan could benefit from their high rankings. Since 1999, every World Cup has been won by teams that held the top two spots in the ODI rankings at the start of the tournament.
Australia, for instance, was ranked second when they won their second title in England in 1999. They then held the top spot when they clinched the World Cup trophy in South Africa in 2003 and in the West Indies in 2007. Similarly, India was ranked second when they triumphed on home soil in 2011. The most recent editions of the 50-over showcase in 2015 and 2019 saw Australia and England, respectively, emerge victorious while holding the No.1 ranking.
Limited Data for Early World Cups
While the ICC has applied their ratings system to results dating back to 1981, there is insufficient data to apply these ratings to results prior to this year due to the infrequency of matches and the limited number of competing teams. Consequently, there are no rankings available for the first two World Cups in 1975 and 1979.
Host Countries Dominate Recent World Cups
Another promising sign for India is the recent trend of host countries winning the World Cup. The last three World Cups were won by the host countries, and India will have the opportunity to continue this trend when the 2023 final is held at Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on November 19.
Pressure and Confidence for India
While India, as the sole host of this year’s World Cup and the current holder of the top ODI ranking, will undoubtedly face immense pressure, they can draw confidence from the performance of No.1 ranked teams in previous tournaments. Only once has the top-ranked team failed to advance to the knockout stages – Australia in 1992. In seven of the last ten tournaments, the team with the No.1 ranking has made it to the final.