Dubai: South Africa has returned to the top of the MRF Tyres ICC ODI Team Rankings after sweeping aside Sri Lanka 5-0 at Centurion on Friday.
South Africa had entered the series against Sri Lanka, trailing number-one ranked Australia by four points. However, Australia’s 0-2 defeat against New Zealand and South Africa’s own 5-0 win over Sri Lanka means South Africa has now moved ahead of the world champions.
South Africa last sat on top of the tree in November 2014 before India moved to the number-one position after defeating Sri Lanka by 5-0. Later that month, Australia claimed the coveted top spot after defeating South Africa 4-1.
This is the fifth time South Africa has surged to the top since the current rankings system was introduced in 2002. It enjoyed top positions in February 2007, March-May 2008, January-August 2009 and October-November 2014.
Since the 1 May 2016 annual cut-off, South Africa has played 17 ODIs, winning 13, including 11 on the trot. Its three loses have been against the West Indies (two) and Australia (one), while one match ended in a no-result.
South Africa will now get a chance to create further daylight between it and Australia when it plays five ODIs against New Zealand from 19 February to 4 March. To retain the top spot, South Africa will have to win the series by 3-2 or better. If New Zealand wins by 3-2, then South Africa will slip behind Australia by a fraction of a point.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka has dropped three points following its performance in South Africa. While it has stayed in sixth position on 98 points, its pre-series 10-point lead over Bangladesh has been reduced to seven points, with eighth-ranked Pakistan another two points behind.
England plus the seven highest-ranked sides on the MRF Tyres ICC ODI Team Rankings as on 30 September 2017 will qualify automatically for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. The remaining four sides from the ODI table along with six sides from the ICC World Cricket League will feature in the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018 to fight for the remaining two places in the pinnacle 50-over to be staged in the United Kingdom from 30 May to 15 July.