DUBAI - Today sees the arrival of a new venue on the international scene when Pakistan and Australia start their five-match ODI series at the Dubai Sports City Cricket Stadium.
But though the location is new, the objective of both sides remains the same as ever - a series win in the five-match contest, which also includes matches at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, and upward movement in the ICC ODI Championship table.
For Australia, who regained second place in the ladder thanks to a victory against South Africa in Johannesburg last Friday, a 5-0 clean sweep would be enough to take them back to the head of affairs, above current leaders South Africa.
Such a series margin would see them draw level with the Proteas on 126 rating points but Australia would move ahead of Graeme Smith's side when the numbers were calculated beyond the decimal point.
Australia would hold their current second spot, ahead of third-placed India, with a 4-1 or 3-2 series win, with the former margin seeing them reduce South Africa's lead to two rating points.
Australia are without some of their most high-profile names for the series, with batsmen Michael Hussey [second] and Ricky Ponting [15th] both resting, the same reason for the absence of fast bowling all-rounder Mitchell Johnson [fifth in the ICC player rankings for ODI bowlers].
On the positive side Australia will be banking on the services of all-rounder Andrew Symonds.
Pakistan, without their highest ranked player in the batting ladder, Mohammad Yousuf (ninth), also have two representatives in that list, former captain Shoaib Malik and opener Salman Butt, together in joint 18th place.
Captain Younus Khan lies 24th in the table.
In the rankings for ODI bowlers Pakistan appears to have the advantage when it comes to the top 20 listing, with four representatives in its squad compared to Australia's two.
The rankings for ODI batsmen are topped by India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni from Michael Hussey, with the West Indies duo of Chris Gayle and Shivnarine Chanderpaul, India's Yuvraj Singh and AB de Villiers of South Africa, man of the series in the recent five-match clash with Australia, completing the top six.
The bowling table is headed by Sri Lanka seam and swing exponent Nuwan Kulasekara.
His teammate Muttiah Muralitharan sits in third spot, sandwiched by two New Zealand players, Kyle Mills (second) and captain Daniel Vettori (fourth), while Johnson is fifth and Bangladesh spinner Shakib Al Hasan is in sixth spot.
Shakib is at the head of affairs in the rankings for all-rounders, clear of Andrew Flintoff, Shoaib Malik and Yuvraj Singh, and New Zealand's Jacob Oram. - Sapa