Dubai, Dec 23 IANS | 2 years ago

South Africa fast bowler Vernon Philander has achieved the coveted number-one position in ICC Test rankings after a stellar performance against India in the Johannesburg Test, which ended in a thrilling draw Sunday.

Philander had entered the Test trailing team-mate Dale Steyn by four ratings points. While Philander recorded figures of four for 61 and three for 68, Steyn managed just one wicket. The contrasting performances resulted in Philander gaining 13 ratings points and Steyn conceding 13 ratings points.

This swing means Philander now leads Steyn by 22 ratings points and the 28-year-old from Bellville will now start the Durban Test as the number-one ranked bowler in the world for the first time in his career.

Reacting to the news, Philander said: "I am happy with my position as the No.1 ranked Test bowler. It is an honour to have been bowling alongside a champion like Dale.

"It's been a great couple of years for our squad, and I have been fortunate enough to contribute to our success on the field. What has been the most pleasing though for us has been the all-round contribution from everyone in the squad that has been the main reason for our success over the last few years."

Philander has dislodged Steyn, who had been at the top of table since July 2009 when he went past Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralidaran. Overall, Steyn spent 186 matches at the number-one position, the second-most ever after Muralidaran.

Philander is now the seventh South Africa bowler to claim the number-one rank after Aubrey Faulkner (1914-1921), Hugh Tayfield (1955-1958), Peter Pollock (1969), Allan Donald (1998-1999), Shaun Pollock (1999-2003) and Steyn (2008-2013).

Overall Philander is the 74th bowler to head the Test bowling rankings.

Meanwhile, two of the four centurions in the Johannesburg Test, Virat Kohli and Faf du Plessis, have moved in the right direction on rankings for Test batsmen.

Kohli, who stroked 119 and 96, has jumped nine places to a career-best 11th position, du Plessis's 134 in the second innings has helped him rocket 16 places to a best-ever 28th position.

Of the other two century-makers in the Test, number-one ranked AB de Villiers and India's Cheteshwar Pujara have consolidated their number-one and number-seven spots, respectively. De Villiers now leads second-ranked Hashim Amla by 25 ratings points while Pujara has earned 37 ratings points to lead eighth-ranked Misbah-ul-Haq by 55 ratings points and has reduced the gap with sixth-ranked Kumar Sangakkara to 28 ratings points.

(Posted on 23-12-2013)