Proteas fast bowler Dale Steyn has stormed back to the number one position in the ICC rankings for Test bowlers after producing a match-winning performance in the Centurion Test that has helped his side complete a 204-run victory over New Zealand on Tuesday.
South Africa won the two-match series 1-0, which was their first series win at home since they beat the West Indies 2-0 in January 2015. The last time South Africa won a series away from home was in the one-match series in Zimbabwe in August 2014.
Steyn, who grabbed 5/33 in the second innings in what was his 26th five-wicket haul, finished with match figures of eight for 99 to regain the top slot. Steyn claimed 10 scalps in the series, and now lies just five Test wickets behind Shaun Pollock on 421 as the leading wicket-taker for South Africa in the longest format of the game.
After reclaiming the No.1 ranking in February 2014 against Australia at Centurion, the 33-year-old had enjoyed the top spot until a shoulder injury in the Durban Test against England in December 2015 limited his bowling. India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin took advantage of Steyn’s absence and backed up by some strong individual performances, finished the year as the top-ranked bowler.
Steyn has leapfrogged Ashwin and top-ranked England pace bowler James Anderson to take the top slot, which he first occupied jointly with retired Sri Lanka off-spinner Muttiah Muralidaran in April 2008.
Steyn has now been number-one for a record 263 Tests with Muralidaran coming second in the list at 214 weeks. In terms of days, Steyn has spent 2,320 days at the top, the most by any bowler since World War II.
Steyn’s new ball partners – Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada – have also made significant gains in the latest bowlers’ rankings, which were released on Wednesday morning.
Philander, who took four wickets in the Centurion Test, has moved from 13th to 11th position, while Rabada has gained three places to rise to 27th position after grabbing five wickets in the match.
The good news for New Zealand is its fast bowler Neil Wagner has moved up one slot to ninth position following his six wickets in the match, including a first innings haul of 5/86.
In the Test batting rankings, South Africa captain Faf du Plessis’s unbeaten century in the first innings has contributed in him moving up the ladder.
Du Plessis scored 112 not out and six in his two innings and has moved up nine places from 33rd rank to 24th. Wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock, who was adjudged player of the match for his knocks of 82 and 50 as well as six dismissals behind the wickets, have seen him move up 18 slots to 32nd.
Meanwhile, the 1-0 series win has pushed South Africa up two places to fifth in the Test team rankings, while New Zealand has slipped two places to seventh.
South Africa is now on 96 points, while Sri Lanka and New Zealand are at 95 points each. However, Sri Lanka is ranked above the Black Caps in sixth place when the ratings are calculated beyond the decimal point.
– African News Agency (ANA)