Openers Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla both smashed centuries as South Africa beat Sri Lanka by 88 runs in the fifth and final one-day international at SuperSport Park on Friday to complete a 5-0 series sweep. The win also allowed the Proteas to move above Australia and into top spot in the ICC ODI Rankings for teams, an important boost ahead of the ICC Champions Trophy which takes place in England in June.South Africa had entered the series against Sri Lanka, trailing number-one ranked Australia by four points. However, Australia's 0-2 defeat against New Zealand and South Africa's own 5-0 win over Sri Lanka means the Proteas have now moved ahead of the world champions.
"We follow the small processes and if you do that the rewards come your way," said South Africa captain AB de Villiers. "I'm very proud of the way we performed.
"It's an important year for us with the Champions Trophy and regaining the No.1 position is a step in the right direction," he added.
Sri Lanka captain Upul Tharanga admitted: "It's been a tough tour, right from the Test series (which South Africa won 3-0). It's a very young team and the players will learn a lot from this. The South African team played really good cricket."
De Kock continued his good run of form, smashing 109 off 87 balls while man of the match Hashim Amla scored 154 off 134 deliveries as South Africa piled up 384 for six after being sent in to bat in Centurion.
Amla has now made four centuries in his last four innings at the stadium.
The match was quickly over as a contest as Sri Lanka slumped to 82 for five.
But Asela Gunaratne hit 114 not out, his maiden one-day international century, to enable Sri Lanka to recover some pride at the end of a one-sided series, finishing with 296 for eight.
South Africa last sat on top of the tree in November 2014 before India moved to the number-one position after defeating Sri Lanka by 5-0. Later that month, Australia claimed the coveted top spot after defeating South Africa 4-1.
This is the fifth time South Africa has surged to the top since the current rankings system was introduced in 2002. It enjoyed top positions in February 2007, March-May 2008, January-August 2009 and October-November 2014.
The Proteas will now get a chance to create further daylight between it and Australia when it plays five ODIs against New Zealand from 19 February to 4 March. To retain the top spot, South Africa will have to win the series by 3-2 or better. If New Zealand wins by 3-2, then South Africa will slip behind Australia by a fraction of a point.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka has dropped three points following its performance in South Africa. While it has stayed in sixth position on 98 points, its pre-series 10-point lead over Bangladesh has been reduced to seven points, with eighth-ranked Pakistan another two points behind.
(With AFP Inputs)