Dubai: South Africa have returned to the top of the ICC ODI Team Rankings after sweeping aside Sri Lanka 5-0 at the SuperSport Park in Centurion on Friday.
Brilliant centuries from Quinton de Kock (109) and Hashim Amla (154) helped the Proteas Africa defeat Sri Lanka by 88 runs in the fifth and final ODI of the series.
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.
A delighted South Africa captain 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."
"It`s an important year for us with the ICC Champions Trophy in June and regaining the No.1 position is a step in the right direction for our preparation ahead of the event. It`s a tight contest at the top so it`ll be important for us to continue putting in the performances so that we can hold onto the position."
The Proteas 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 have 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.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 have 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.