South Africa regained the top rank in One-Day Internationals, ascending to No.1 for the first time since November 2014. © Getty Images

South Africa regained the top rank in One-Day Internationals, ascending to No.1 for the first time since November 2014. © Getty Images

South Africa regained the top rank in One-Day Internationals on Friday (February 10), after their 5-0 sweep of Sri Lanka, ascending to No.1 for the first time since November 2014.

South Africa needed a clean sweep to get back to No. 1, which they achieved with an 88-run demolition of Sri Lanka in the fifth ODI at SuperSport Park in Centurion, riding on the back of tons by Hashim Amla (154 off 134) and Quinton de Kock (109 off 87) to put up a mammoth 384 for 6 before restricting Sri Lanka to 296 for 8.

South Africa now have 119 points, one more than Australia, who have been pushed to No. 2. South Africa’s own series win coupled with Australia’s 2-0 loss to New Zealand in the Chappell-Hadlee series combined to put AB de Villiers’s side back on top.

“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,” said de Villiers of the achievement.

“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.”

This is the fifth reign at the top of the ODI rankings for South Africa since the current ranking system was introduced in 2002, having first claimed the spot in February 2007. They were also No. 1 in March-May 2008, then January-August 2009 – their longest stint so far, and finally in October-November 2014.

They can put further distance between themselves and Australia during the five-match ODI series against New Zealand that starts on February 19 and runs till March 4 in New Zealand. To retain their No. 1 ranking, South Africa will have to win that series by a 3-2 margin or better. If New Zealand win 3-2, South Africa will slip behind Australia by a fraction of a point.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka remained on No. 6 in the table, though they dropped three points following the 5-0 whitewash. They are now on 98 points, just seven ahead of the seventh-ranked Bangladesh side, who have a narrow two-point advantage over the eighth-ranked Pakistan team.