New Zealand captain Kane Williamson enters the New Year as the top-ranked test batsman after leapfrogging Australia's Steve Smith and India skipper Virat Kohli in the latest ICC men's Test batting ranking released on Thursday.
Williamson, who returned from paternity leave this month, hit a match-winning century in the opening test against Pakistan to help New Zealand win by 101 runs at Mount Maunganui on Wednesday.
Smith is in the middle of a rare slump in form and dropped behind Kohli after registering four single-digit scores at the halfway stage of the ongoing four-test series against India.
Kohli, who top-scored for India in their eight-wicket thrashing by Australia in the series opener in Adelaide, has returned home for the birth of his first child.
- Rahane jumps to sixth -
India's stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane broke into the top 10 after gaining five places.
Rahane climbed to the sixth spot after scoring 112 and 27 not out to inspire India's eight-wicket series-levelling win in the second Test against Australia in Melbourne. It is just one below his career-best ranking of fifth attained in October last year.
Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, too, was rewarded for his five-wicket haul at the MCG as he gained two places to the seventh spot, while pacer Jasprit Bumrah rose to the ninth position.
Ravindra Jadeja, who scored a crucial 57 and captured three wickets in the second Test, remained at number three but reduced the gap with Jason Holder to seven points in the all rounder's ranking. He, however, gained 11 and four positions to reach a career best-equalling 36th and 14th positions in batting and bowling respectively.
MCG debutants Shubman Gill and Mohammad Siraj made notable entries in 76th and 77th positions in the list for batsmen and bowlers, respectively. Gill scored 45 and 35 not out opening the innings, while Siraj finished with five wickets in the match.
India's batting mainstay Cheteshwar Pujara's lack of form saw him lose two spots to slip to the 10th place.
Australia left-arm fast bowler Mitchell Starc's four wickets in the match helped him reach a career best-equalling fifth position.
For Pakistan, Fawad Alam's valiant second-innings century has lifted him 80 places to 102nd position while wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan's scores of 71 and 60 have helped him advance 27 places to a career-best 47th position. Left-arm fast bowler Shaheen Afridi has moved from 35th to 33rd after grabbing four wickets in the first innings.
In Centurion, a knock of 199 by Faf du Plessis saw him not only win the player of the match award but also gain 14 places to reach 21st position, one behind team-mate Dean Elgar, who too gained four spots after a knock of 95. Lungi Ngidi gained four places and is 56th among bowlers.
For Sri Lanka, Dinesh Chandimal's knocks of 85 and 25 have lifted him three places to 38th while Dhananjaya de Silva (up nine places to 34th) and Kusal Perera (up four places to 60th) have also made notable gains among batsmen.
In the ICC Test team rankings, New Zealand are in line to wrest the top spot from Australia, who remain fractionally ahead since the Test team rankings are updated only at the end of each series.
Even a draw in the second Test against Pakistan could see New Zealand take the top spot.
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