AUSTRALIA HAVE lost their place at the top of the world one-day international rankings after New Zealand registered a thrilling five-wicket victory over them in Auckland on Sunday.
The hosts successfully chased Australia's total of 336 for 4 with eight balls to spare to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the Chappell-Hadlee series. Australia were playing without Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, Brett Lee, Andrew Symonds and Michael Clarke.
South Africa, who beat Pakistan 3-1 in a recent home series, have become the first team to replace Australia at the top of the rankings since they were introduced in October 2002.
The loss to New Zealand was Australia's fifth in six matches and fourth in a row following losses to England in the CB triangular series at home.
Even if Australia win the final match of the three-match series against the Black Caps, in Hamilton on Tuesday, it will not be enough for them to regain top spot on the one-day championship table.
But with the World Cup starting in the Caribbean on March 13, there is still an opportunity for Australia to win the annual champion's cheque of $175,000 (Rs 78 lakh) that is awarded to the side that leads the table on April 1.
India are fifth on the rankings table, two points behind Pakistan and New Zealand.