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South Africa has strengthened its position as the number-one ranked Test side after the annual update of the ICC Test Championship Table. The Proteas have gained seven ratings points, lifting them to 135 ratings points – 19 ratings points clear of second-ranked India.

The annual update ensures that the ICC Test Championship Table continues to reflect recent form, with older results being discarded. At the recent ICC Board meeting, it was decided that the annual update to the Test, ODI and T20I rankings should now take place on 1 May each year, rather than 1 August, since this better aligns with the current international calendar.  This change has been incorporated in the latest update, and has been backdated to 1 May 2013.

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The battle for second place on the ICC Test Championship Table at the 1 April cut-off date resulted in a photo-finish between England and India on Tuesday. In the end, the thrilling draw at Auckland in the third and final Test at Auckland against New Zealand handed England the number-two rank on the 1 April cut-off date.

England needed to win or draw the Auckland Test to secure the second position, India not only needed to win the Delhi Test but also had to hope for a New Zealand victory in the Auckland Test. If New Zealand had won the series 1-0, then India could have finished in second position at the 1 April cut-off date.

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Shane Watson will become Australia’s 44th Test captain today after Michael Clarke was withdrawn from the fourth and final Test against India with a back injury.

Watson said it was an honour to be appointed to the role; “It’s really a dream come true to be asked to captain your country. I’ve captained some one-day internationals, but to be asked to captain a Test will be the ultimate honour.

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Centurions of the Wellington and Mohali Tests have made impressive gains in the latest ICC Player Rankings for Test batsmen released on Tuesday.

In Wellington, England’s Nick Compton’s 100 was his second successive century, and his teammate Jonathan Trott scored 121 in a drawn encounter against New Zealand. In Mohali, openers Murali Vijay scored 153 and debutant Shikhar Dhawan hit 187 to set up their side’s six-wicket victory over Australia, which gave India a 3-0 lead in the four-Test series.

 

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The battle for second place on the ICC Test Championship Table is still a three-way race between England, Australia and India. This is despite the fact that England was held to a draw by New Zealand in Dunedin and India leads Australia 2-0 in the four-Test series.

The three sides are currently separated by 13 ratings points on the Championship table which will be updated at the conclusion of India-Australia and New Zealand-England Test series on 26 March and will also reflect results from West Indies-Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka-Bangladesh series.

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The Proteas were denied a rare, two-day victory in the first Sunfoil Test match when New Zealand survived 52 overs to reach 169-4 at the close of play, still requiring another 133 runs to make South Africa bat again.

An unbeaten 69 from Dean Brownlie, dropped twice in the 20s, helped New Zealand take the game into a third day once Graeme Smith had declared soon after lunch with a total of 347-8, a lead of 302 runs.

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Vernon Philander and Alviro Petersen led South Africa on a day of complete dominance as the two-test Sunfoil series began at Sahara Park Newlands on Wednesday with the tourists dismissed for a dismal total of just 45 before the Proteas closed the day on 252-3, a commanding lead of 207 runs.

Philander took the new ball and completed his eighth five-wicket haul in just his 13th Test match in the space of his first 25 deliveries to finish with an astonishing analysis of 6-3-7-5 as New Zealand crashed to 27-5. Morne Morkel (3-14) and Dale Steyn (2-18) then claimed the next five wickets between them as the tourists crashed to their third lowest total in Tests and the eighth lowest of all time.

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