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New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori leads the Black Caps in the much-awaited five-match ODI series against England starting in Wellington from Saturday with top spot in the LG ICC Player Rankings for ODI bowlers firmly in his sights.

The 29-year-old from Auckland is just nine ratings points behind team-mate Shane Bond who has been promoted to No 1 position following South Africa’s Shaun Pollock’s retirement earlier this week.

And with Bond not taking part in the series, Vettori will have an excellent chance to put himself on top of the bowling list, provided he finds the form that has recently eluded him. In the last three series’ against South Africa, Australia and Bangladesh, Vettori has claimed 12 wickets while in the 12 ODIs against England, he has managed only 10 wickets.

Besides Vettori, Kyle Mills is the other New Zealand bowler in the top 10 and will be desperate to at least cement his seventh position if he cannot overtake Australia duo of Brett Lee and Nathan Bracken, and Sri Lanka pair of Muttiah Muralidaran.

Only 20 ratings points separate third-placed Lee from seventh-placed Mills but with the four bowlers also involved in the CB Series in Australia, rankings are likely to change significantly over the next few weeks.

Jacob Oram shares 15th place with England’s James Anderson and both the fast bowlers will be hoping to make an upward movement.

Flamboyant England batsman Kevin Pietersen will also be targeting a return to the top three in the LG ICC Player Rankings for ODI batsmen after losing the top spot to Australia’s Ricky Ponting following a disappointing home series against the West Indies seven months ago.

Pietersen trails third-placed Graeme Smith of South Africa by five ratings points and is four points adrift of fourth-placed Mohammad Yousuf of Pakistan. Both players have no present ODI commitments which means a good performance can help Pietersen leapfrog the two.

New Zealand’s Scott Styris and England’s Ian Bell are the next highest ranked players from the two teams in 22nd and 23 positions respectively while captain Paul Collingwood is in 26th position and Peter Fulton three ratings points behind in 27th spot.

Sri Lanka’s Sanath Jayasuriya leads England’s absent star Andrew Flintoff by just one ratings points in the LG ICC Player Rankings for ODI all-rounders while Oram trails fifth-placed Chris Gayle by 10 ratings points and has an opportunity to swap places with the West Indies captain.
 
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