Australian captain Michael Clarke remains the number one batsman in the ICC Test Player Rankings but South Africa's Hashim Amla closed the gap to just one point in the latest standings.
Amla's display in the final Test against New Zealand has moved the South African batsman to within a point of Clarke, ahead of February's three-match series at home to Pakistan.
The 29-year-old occupied third spot in the ICC rankings before the start of the second Test in Port Elizabeth but his 110-run performance in the innings and 193-run triumph, which wrapped up the series 2-0, saw him reach a career-best 886 rating points.
Amla is poised to reach the top ranking for the first time his career with Clarke not expected to feature until the end of February when Australia tours India.
West Indian Shivnarine Chanderpaul slipped to third in the standings, however, India's Sachin Tendulkar (up by one) and Sri Lankan Mahela Jayawardene (up by one) improved to 19th and 20th respectively.
South African Faf du Plessis, who notched his second Test century, improved to 38th in the world (up by five), team-mate South African Dean Elgar was the biggest mover as he cracked the top 100 for the first time in his career, moving to 96th (up by 49) in the rankings following his ton against the Black Caps.
New Zealand duo Dean Brownlie in 43rd (up by three) and BJ Watling in 56th (up by 22) were rewarded for their brave efforts in the mammoth defeat.
There were no changes in the top-15 bowling rankings, with South African paceman Dale Steyn still leading the way on the back of his match-winning figures of 8-65 against the Black Caps, a performance that increased his buffer at the top by 45 points.
South Africa's Vernon Philander, Pakistani Saeed Ajmal, Sri Lankan Rangana Herath and Peter Siddle of Australia remain in the top-five positions.
Doug Bracewell, one of New Zealand's rare shining lights, climbed to 37th in the world (up by one), South African Robin Peterson, who claimed four wickets for the match, jumped 15 spots into 50th, while countryman Rory Kleinveldt also improved to 74th in the world (up by 17).
In the all-rounders rankings, South African veteran Jacques Kallis continues to set the pace ahead of Bangladeshi Shakib Al Hasan and Australia's Shane Watson although England spinner Graeme Swann leapfrogged New Zealand's Daniel Vettori into fourth position.
Meanwhile, South Africa opened a six-point advantage ahead of England, an improvement of one point, at the top of the Test Championship table thanks to their comprehensive victory against New Zealand, who dropped to eighth.