Cricket-Williamson overtakes Smith and Kohli to be top test batsman

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NEW DELHI, Dec.31 (Reuters) – New Zealand captain Kane Williamson enters the new year as the top-ranked test batsman after overtaking Australia’s Steve Smith and Indian skipper Virat Kohli in the latest official ranking released Thursday.

Williamson, who returned from paternity leave this month, struck a century victorious in the opening test against Pakistan to help New Zealand win by 101 points at Mount Maunganui on Wednesday. is in the midst of a rare drop in form and has fallen behind Kohli after registering four single-digit scores midway through the ongoing four-test run against India.

Kohli, who dominated for India in their eight-wicket beating by Australia in the series opener in Adelaide, has returned home for the birth of his first child.

Indian replacement skipper Ajinkya Rahane moved up to sixth after his stellar hundred in the second test inspired tourists to a series-level victory in Melbourne.

Australia’s Pat Cummins remains the top test pitcher, while compatriot Mitchell Starc jumped two places to enter the top five.

Indian spinner Ravichandran Ashwin (seventh) and fast Jasprit Bumrah (ninth) improved their top 10 places after their impressive performance in the Melbourne test.

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