The Indian cricket team has retained the ICC Test Championship Mace and won the prize money of USD one million for a third-year straight after an incredible year of red ball cricket. The well decorated season also saw India 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 have ensured second place, 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. A top place finish was never in doubt for India, while New Zealand's consistent performances over the past year saw them climb from third position, needing them to only avoid losing the home series against Bangladesh last month to finish at the same position.
The Kane Williamson-led side, who also had the satisfaction of seeing their captain get the ICC Spirit of Cricket award for 2018, earned USD 500,000 after finishing with 108 points, eight behind India.
South Africa, who had finished second the previous two times, will now get prize money of USD 200,000 for finishing third with 105 points while Australia who edged out England on decimal points at 104 points bag USD 100,000.
"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.
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."
ICC chief executive Manu Sawhney congratulated the Indian team 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.
(inputs from PTI)