India moved up a rung to second spot, ahead of England, in the latest ICC Test rankings, issued on Monday, while South Africa strengthened its position as the numero uno side after the annual update of the championship table.
Despite England winning its last two Test series against India, it is placed below M S Dhoni's side on account of inconsistent performances in other recent series, particularly against Pakistan (0-3), South Africa (0-2) and the away series against eighth-ranked New Zealand (0-0).
However, Alastair Cook's team can reclaim the No 2 spot by winning the upcoming Ashes series, starting July 10, at Trent Bridge, Nottingham.
England needs to win by a 3-0 margin or better to regain second place.
The Proteas gained seven ratings points, lifting them to 135 – 19 ratings points clear of second-ranked India.
The annual update ensures that the table continues to reflect recent form, with past results being discarded.
At the recent ICC Board meeting, it was decided that the annual update to the Test, ODI and T20I rankings will now take place on May 1 each year, rather than August 1, since it aligns better with the current international calendar.
"This change has been incorporated in the latest update, and has been backdated to May 1, 2013," read a statement from the ICC.
The updated table now reflects all Test series completed after August 1, 2010.
Image: The South Africa team with the ICC Test championship mace
Photograph: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images