South Africa is the main beneficiary of the annual update of the Reliance Mobile ICC Test Championship table.
It has moved above India and England into second place, although it is still 23 rating points behind runaway leaders Australia.
But if it sweeps the four-match series with England that starts at Lord's in London tomorrow then it will gain six rating points to move within 17 of Ricky Ponting's men.
However, Australia continues to be the table topper, thanks to their 2-0 win against the West Indies in the Caribbeans.
The new table no longer reflects series concluded before 1 August 2005 and that benefits South Africa because it means losing series against Sri Lanka (0-1), India (0-1) and England (1-2) no longer feature in the calculations.
For India, a narrow series loss at home to Australia (1-2), that series win over South Africa and a drawn series with Pakistan (1-1) no longer count.
To retain second place, South Africa needs to avoid defeat in the series against England. But if England wins the series 1-0 or 2-1, then India and South Africa will swap places.
A win for England by 2-0, 3-1 or 3-0 will leave India second, but see England go third, with South Africa slipping back to fourth.
A 4-0 clean sweep for England would lift its rating to 114 and into second place, with India third (at its current mark of 113 points) and South Africa further adrift on 106 points.
Meanwhile, if the series is tied, South Africa and India would be level on 113 points but the Proteas would retain second place when the ratings are calculated beyond the decimal point.
In the bowlers list, Indian Test captain Anil Kumble continues to be the lone Indian in the top 10, at the eight position.
However, South African pacer Dale Steyn is within a touching distance of replacing Muttiah Muralidaran from the top spot as just five rating points separates him from the Sri Lankan.
In the batsmen list no Indian figures in the table while Sri lankan wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara is at the top followed by Shivnarine Chanderpaul of West Indies and Aussie batsman Mike Hussey is in the third spot.