India held the second position with third-placed Pakistan breathing down its neck, while Ravichandran Ashwin topped the all-rounders list besides being placed second in bowling in the latest ICC Test rankings released on Tuesday.
England face Pakistan in the upcoming four-Test home series knowing that it is within striking distance of overtaking the opposition in the ICC Test team rankings.
Trailing by a mere point, Pakistan could leapfrog India into second place if it wins the series 2-1 or 3-1.
The minute difference in points between India, Pakistan and England throws up a number of interesting scenarios ahead of the Test series between hosts England and Pakistan.
A win for Pakistan in the series, by a 2-1 or 3-1 margin, will help it take the second place, a position it has occupied only once since the officials rankings were launched in 2003.
Pakistan even has a chance to surge to the top of the rankings, replacing current world number 1 Australia, but to make this happen it will have to win 3-0 or better.
England, who recently defeated Sri Lanka 2-0 in a three-Test home series, is only three points behind Pakistan at 111. This means that margins of 2-1 or 1-0 win will be enough for it to go past world number 3 Pakistan in the points table as either of these results will see England lift to 110 points and Pakistan slipping down to 107.
If England manages a 2-0 or 3-1 win, it will tie with India at 112 points.
India is due to take on the West Indies in a four-Test series that ends a week after the England-Pakistan series. In case England is able to capitalise on the home advantage, it can rise to second position with a 3-0 win and to 114 points if it wins all the matches.
England’s Joe Root will start as the highest-ranked batsman from either side in fourth place. The Yorkshire batsman will be keen to convert his poor run of form, which has seen him drop two places and 52 points following an ordinary series against Sri Lanka.