India moved a rung to second spot, ahead of England, in the latest ICC Test rankings issued on Monday, while South Africa have strengthened its position as the numero uno side after the annual update of the championship table.
Despite England having won its last two Test series against India, it now finds itself below MS Dhoni's side on account of less consistent performances in other recent series, in particular against Pakistan (0-3), South Africa (0-2) and tie in the away series against eighth ranked New Zealand (0-0).
However, Alastair Cook's team can reclaim the number two spot by winning the upcoming Ashes series, starting on July 10 in Trent Bridge, Nottingham. England need to win by a margin of 3-0 or better to regain the second position.
The Proteas have gained seven ratings points, lifting them to 135 points - 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 would 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," the ICC said in a release.
The updated table now reflects all Test series completed after August 1, 2010.