London: England must beat India by at least two clear matches in the forthcoming series to be ranked as the world's top Test team.

Anything less will be insufficient to remove their opponents from the No. 1 spot they have occupied since last year.

At present, England are in third place on 117 points, behind India on 125 and South Africa on 118. A win for England by 1-0 or 2-1 in the four-match series, which is scheduled to start at the Lord's next week, will see them overtake South Africa but only draw level with India.

But a victory by 2-0 or 3-1, with points at stake because England lost to India at home four years ago, would see Andrew Strauss' side go three points clear.

If England were to lose to India, by any margin, they would still retain third place in the rankings, such is the gap between the top three and the rest.

Although the rankings are arcane, depending on a multitude of factors including quality of the opposition and previous results between the sides, they are generally felt to be accurate.

It is England's declared mission to top the charts for the first time since the ICC's official ratings system began and if they miss out now they may have to wait a while for another opportunity, relying on India to lose to others, reports Independent.

A sense of anticipation is settling on England with such a prize at stake.

(Agencies)