New Zealand topples Australia become No. 1 Test team after series sweep against Pakistan

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ESPN CRICINFO – New Zealand have toppled Australia from the No. 1 position in the ICC Test rankings, getting to 118 rating points as against Australia’s 116 after winning the second and final Test against Pakistan by an innings and 176 runs in Christchurch on Wednesday, which gave them a 2-0 series win. India (114), England (106) and South Africa (96) round off the top five.

New Zealand had pulled ahead of Australia after winning the first Test against Pakistan, by 101 runs in Mount Maunganui, but had to wait to start the celebrations of becoming the seventh team to get to the top of the rankings, because the ICC updates the tables only at the conclusion of each series.

Kane Williamson, meanwhile, consolidated his top spot in the list of Test batsmen, getting to 890 points after yet another sterling performance – a Player-of-the-Match-award-winning innings of 238 in the win in Christchurch. That kept him ahead of Virat Kohli (879), Steven Smith (877) and Marnus Labuschagne (850), the only other batsmen to be above 800 at this point. Williamson has now hit 251, 129, 21 and 238 in his last three Tests.

While there is no other New Zealand batsman in the top ten, Neil Wagner and Tim Southee are third and fourth in the bowlers’ rankings respectively. Colin de Grandhomme, who has been out of action with an injury, is at No. 8 in the allrounders’ list, and moving into No. 10 after picking up a chart-topping 16 wickets in the two Tests against Pakistan – while also hitting two useful 30s – is Kyle Jamieson.

The 2-0 series win over Pakistan also means New Zealand move upwards in the World Test Championship table. They now have 420 points, more than India’s 390 and Australia’s 322, but are behind them on PCT (percentage) points: Australia are No. 1 with 0.767, followed by India on 0.722, and New Zealand are third with 0.70.

New Zealand have been close to invincible at home in recent years. The last time they lost a Test match at home was back in March 2017, when South Africa beat them by eight wickets in Wellington – that, in fact, is the only Test they have lost at home since the start of 2017.

That record helped them stay within a shot of the No. 1 spot for the last two years, when they have been No. 2 for long stretches. Now, though, they have followed Australia (May 2020 to Jan 2021), India (Oct 2016 to Apr 2020), Pakistan (Aug 2016 to Oct 2016), South Africa (Jul 2014 to Jan 2016), England (Aug 2011 to Aug 2012) and West Indies (Aug 1995) to the top spot, for the first time.