Australia have lost their spot at the top of the International Cricket Council’s one-day international team rankings after South Africa leapfrogged them following their series win over Sri Lanka.
The Proteas, thanks to tons from Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla, stormed to an 88-run win in the final ODI against Sri Lanka, sealing a 5-0 series whitewash on Friday.
It was South Africa's 11th consecutive win in the 50-over format, enough to return them to the number one spot for the first time in two years.
AB de Villiers' side is now in the box seat to hold on to the mantle at the end of the international season in April.
“We are excited to be back at the top of the ICC ODI Team Rankings,” de Villiers said.
“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.”
Following their 0-2 Chappell-Hadlee series defeat in New Zealand last week, Australia’s lead over South Africa at the top of the ICC ODI charts was cut to just a fraction of a point.
But Steve Smith’s men could still return to the No.1 spot despite not having any matches to play between now and the Champions Trophy in June.
The Proteas begin a five-match series against third-ranked New Zealand later this months and Australia could regain the No.1 spot if the Black Caps defeat South Africa 3-2.
But the Kiwis could also ascend to the top spot with a series win.
The team at the top of the ODI rankings come April 1 receives a hefty cheque from the ICC, as does the No.1 Test team, which will be India unless Steve Smith’s men can cause a major upset on the subcontinent.
The 2015 World Cup winners have been inconsistent in the one-day game in recent times, losing heavily to South Africa (0-5) and New Zealand (0-2) away while beating the Black Caps (3-0) and Pakistan (4-1) at home this summer.
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Australia’s next ODI assignment will be this winter’s ICC Champions Trophy in the United Kingdom, which has been resurrected after it was farewelled in 2013 with victory to India.
The tournament, which Australia have won twice (in 2006 and 2009), runs from June 1 to June 18 and will be a prelude to the 2019 50-over World Cup held in England and Wales.