India have retained the ICC Test Championship Mace for a third straight year and pocketed the purse of $1 million as a result following a memorable season that saw them winning their maiden series in Australia.
India finished at the top of the ICC Test Team rankings on the cut-off date of April 1 while New Zealand stood second, the world body said in a statement on Monday.
“Retaining the ICC Test Championship Mace once again is something we are all really proud of. Our team has been doing well across formats but it gives us extra pleasure to come out on top of the Test rankings,” India captain Virat Kohli said reiterating his love for Test cricket.
“We all know of the importance of Test cricket and of how only the best can prosper in the format,” he added.
“Our team has a lot of depth and I am sure this will stand us in good stead once the ICC World Test Championship commences later this year. That is again something we are really looking forward to as it adds more context to Test match cricket,” Kohli said.
India were never likely to be displaced from their spot at the top of the rankings while New Zealand jumped one place owing to consistent performances over the past year.
The Kane Williamson-led side, who also had the satisfaction of seeing their captain get the ICC Spirit of Cricket award for 2018, earned $500,000 after finishing with 108 points, eight behind India.
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson said it was an “awesome” achievement for his side to finish second in the ICC Test Team Rankings “…as a team we should be very proud. It’s come off the back of a lot of hard work and perseverance; not just by the eleven guys on the field, but the entire squad and support staff.
“It’s been especially pleasing to see the consistency we’ve shown in the longest form of the game over a decent period of time.”
South Africa, who had finished second the previous two years, will now get a prize money of $200,000 for finishing third with 105 points while Australia, who edged out England on decimal points at 104 points, bag $100,000.
ICC chief executive Manu Sawhney congratulated India while reiterating the importance of Test cricket and looking forward to the start of the World Test Championship after the World Cup in May-July.
“I congratulate India on retaining the ICC Test Championship Mace and appreciate the passion Virat Kohli’s team has shown across formats over the past few years. Test cricket has been enjoying a purple patch over the last couple of years with more positive results than ever and a genuine competitive balance between nations,” he said.
Nine Test nations will compete across 27 series and 71 Test matches to reach the World Test Championship Final in 2021 where the champions will be crowned.
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