SA cleansweep gives it top spot in ICC rankings

South Africa's 88-run win over Sri Lanka in Centurion, besides giving it a 5-0 series result, also took it to the top of the ODI rankings.

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Players shake hands after South Africa completed the whitewash.   -  Reuters

South Africa has clinched the No. 1 position in International Cricket Council (ICC) One-Day International (ODI) rankings with its >5-0 clean-sweep of Sri Lanka in Centurion on Friday. Australia’s 2-0 defeat in the New Zealand-leg of the Chappell-Hadlee series coupled with South Africa’s demolition act closed the four-point gap the two teams had before the five-match ODI series began.

This is the first time South Africa has gained the top spot in ODI rankings in more than two years. Since the rankings were introduced, it has occupied this spot five times now – earlier, in the period February 2007, in March-May 2008, in January-August 2009, and October-November, 2014.

AB de Villiers said, “We are excited to be back at the top of the ICC ODI team rankings. We have had some trials since the World Cup two years ago but have worked hard to rebuild and to gain some form and consistency in this format.”

To retain the position, South Africa will have to defeat New Zealand in the ODI series between the two teams that commences later this month. If New Zealand emerges the winner, South Africa will move back behind Australia to No. 2.

With the comprehensive defeat, Sri Lanka dropped three rankings points, but remained in the No. 6 spot. It now stays ahead of Bangladesh by seven points, and ahead of Pakistan by nine. The top seven teams in the table – besides England – on September 30, 2017, will qualify directly for participation in the World Cup in 2019. The four remaining teams in the table will play a qualifying tournament alongside six other sides from the ICC World Cricket League, fighting for the last two spots in the World Cup.

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