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Clarke vaults into top 10 after unbeaten triple century

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Australia captain Michael Clarke has rocketed his way into the top 10 of the ICC Player Rankings for Test batsmen for the first time in 15 months after his career-best unbeaten triple century earned his side an innings and 68 runs victory in the second Test in Sydney on Friday. The win gave the home side a 2-0 lead in the four-Test series.

Clarke scored 329 runs, after a little over 10 hours of vigil at the crease, during which he received 468 deliveries, off which 39 were converted into fours and one into a six. For this magnificent achievement, the 30-year-old has been rewarded with a jump of 12 places and he is now in eighth position.

This is Clarke's best ranking since his eighth position which he had achieved after the Mohali Test against India in October 2010. The charismatic skipper has also become his side's highest-ranked batsman after leapfrogging Michael Hussey.

Hussey has moved up four places to 12th position after scoring an unconquered 150. The left-hander had also featured in an unbroken 334-run fifth wicket partnership with Clarke, which had earned Australia a 468-run first innings lead.

Former captain Ricky Ponting, who was the third centurion in Australia's imposing 659-4 declared, has also gained a place and is now in 23rd spot. The 37-year-old Ponting scored his 40th hundred when he was out after scoring 134.

The news is not very good for the top-order India batsmen who have dipped in the latest rankings.

Sachin Tendulkar has dropped two places to sixth position, Rahul Dravid has fallen four spots to 15th position, VVS Laxman has dropped one place to 18th spot and Virender Sehwag has fallen out of the top 20, in 22nd position, after conceding four places.

In the ICC Player Rankings for Test bowlers, Australia's Ben Hilfenhaus has continued his impressive form and has broken into the top 20 for the first time in his career.

Hilfenhaus, who had figures of 3-51 and 5-106, has jumped 11 places to claim 11th position. The 28-year-old Tasmanian is just two ratings points behind 10th-ranked Daniel Vettori of New Zealand. Given that he is in a qualification period for bowlers*, it is likely that he will move even further up the ladder depending on how he performs in the third Test which starts in Perth on 13 January.

Meanwhile, South Africa wrapped up its three-Test series against Sri Lanka on Friday with a crushing win in Cape Town. The 2-1 series win earned Graeme Smith's side one ratings point and kept it in third position in the Reliance ICC Test Championship table.

Nevertheless, the good news for South Africa is that it will will be ranked second when the Test Championship table is next updated after the Adelaide Test. And this is because India's successive defeats in Australia means the best Mahendra Singh Dhoni's side can now achieve is a two-all draw which will not be enough to keep it ahead of South Africa on the Championship table.

If the series in Australia ends in a draw, then India and South Africa will be locked at 117 ratings points but the Proteas will be ranked ahead of India when the ratings are calculated beyond the decimal point. If Australia wins 3-0, it will move to 110 ratings points, two behind India, while a 3-1 series win will mean India will drop to 113 ratings points while Australia will rise to 108 ratings points.

However, if Australia makes a clean sweep of the series, then both sides will be locked at 111 ratings points, but India will still be ranked above Australia by a fraction of a point.

In the ICC Player Rankings for Test batsmen, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers and Alviro Petersen have moved in the right direction by scoring excellent centuries.

Kallis, who scored 224 in his 150th Test, has reclaimed second position behind number-one ranked Kumar Sangakkara of Sri Lanka after earning two places, while de Villiers has gained three places to occupy fifth position after hitting 160 not out. Opener Petersen, who scored 109 in his comeback Test, has moved up 13 places to 55th position.

For Sri Lanka, Thilan Samaraweera is the only batsman to make an upward movement. The middle-order batsman has achieved a career-best ranking of 10th after scores of 11 and 115 not out.

In the ICC Player Rankings for Test bowlers, South Africa's Vernon Philander has gained seven places to claim a career-best ranking of 21st after match figures of six for 100. Considering that he made his international debut against Australia only a couple of months ago in Cape Town, it is nothing but an incredible entry into international cricket.

The 26-year-old is in a qualification period for bowlers*. As such, it is likely that he will move even further up the tree depending on how he performs in the three-Test series against New Zealand which starts in Dunedin on 7 February.

In the ICC Player Rankings for Test all-rounders, Kallis has returned to second position, which he had conceded after a disappointing Durban Test. Kallis backed up his double-century with second innings figures of three for 35 which have helped him sit just nine ratings points behind Shakib Al Hasan of Bangladesh – the man who ended his reign of three thousand, six hundred and ninety-six days at the top of the all-rounders' ranking by becoming the first Bangladesh player to score a century and take five wickets in the same innings of a Test against Pakistan last month.

ICC Test Championship table 

1-     England                       125
2-     India                            118
3-     South Africa                117
4-     Australia                      103
5-     Pakistan                        99
6-     Sri Lanka                      98
7-     West Indies                  88
8-     New Zealand                83
9-     Bangladesh                    4