New Zealand captain Kane Williamson has overtaken Australia’s run-machine Steve Smith and India’s talismanic skipper Virat Kohli to claim the top spot for batsmen in the ICC Men’s Test Player Rankings after his ‘Player of the Match’ effort in the first Test against Pakistan in Tauranga. Williamson continued his red-hot form in the longer format as he notched up his 23rd Test hundred in the first Test against Pakistan at Bay Oval. Also Read - T Natarajan Lauds Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane Captaincy After Impressive Team India Debut in Australia, Recalls Emotional Moment
Willamson had briefly occupied the top spot towards the end of 2015 but either Smith or Kohli have been number one since then. This year too, Smith was at the top for 313 days and Kohli for 51, before Williamson surged ahead of his two contemporaries from the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup 2008. Also Read - Ravichandran Ashwin: Tim Paine Played Perfect Host by Missing Rishabh Pant Stumping Chance at Brisbane
In Thursday’s year-ending update, that also includes performances from the second Test between Australia and India in Melbourne and the first Test between South Africa and Sri Lanka in Centurion, Williamson has gained 13 rating points for his effort of 129 and 21 to go 11 points clear of Kohli and 13 ahead of Smith. Kohli is on paternity leave for the last three Tests of India’s ongoing series against Australia while Smith’s MCG outing could only get him scores of zero and eight. Also Read - IPL 2021: Pat Cummins Set to Earn More Money Than MS Dhoni, Rohit Sharma as KKR Pacer Gets Retained Ahead of IPL 14 Mini-Auction
For Pakistan, Fawad Alam’s valiant second-innings century has lifted him 80 places to 102nd position while wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan’s scores of 71 and 60 have helped him advance 27 places to a career-best 47th position. Left-arm fast bowler Shaheen Afridi has moved from 35th to 33rd after grabbing four wickets in the first innings.
Ajinkya Rahane, leading in Kohli’s absence, has gained big after guiding India to a series-levelling eight-wicket win in Melbourne with scores of 112 and 27 not out. Rahane has advanced five places to reach the sixth position, just one below his career-best of fifth attained in October 2019.
Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin also moved up by up two places to take the seventh spot and fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah is also up one place to claim ninth position. Both Indian cricketers have made notable gains within the top 10.
All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja is another big gainer, moving up 11 spots to a career best-equalling 36th place among batsmen after a handy knock of 57 in his only innings in Melbourne and gaining four places to reach 14th place among bowlers after finishing with three wickets in the match. He remains third among all-rounders but has reduced the gap with Jason Holder 34 to seven points.
Debutants Shubman Gill and Mohammad Siraj have made notable entries in 76th and 77th positions in the list for batsmen and bowlers, respectively. Gill scored 45 and 35 not out opening the innings while Siraj finished with five wickets in the match.
Australia left-arm fast bowler Mitchell Starc’s four wickets in the match have helped him reach a career best-equalling fifth position. Matthew Wade’s scores of 30 and 40 as opener helped him reach 50th among batsmen from 55th while Cameron Green has gained 36 slots to reach 115th position.
In Centurion, a knock of 199 by Faf du Plessis saw him not only win the player of the match award but also gain 14 places to reach 21st position, one behind team-mate Dean Elgar, who too gained four spots after a knock of 95. Lungi Ngidi has gained four places and is 56th among bowlers.
In the ICC Test Team Rankings, New Zealand are in line to wrest the top spot from Australia, who remain fractionally ahead since the Test team rankings are updated only at the end of each series. Even a draw in the second Test against Pakistan though could see New Zealand take the top spot.