Johannesburg: India's win over South Africa in the third and final Test on Saturday helped Virat Kohli and company to retain the ICC Test Championship mace.
The 63-run win at the Wanderers ensured that South Africa cannot move ahead of India in the ICC Test Team Rankings at April 3, 2018, cut-off date, even if they go on to win all four Tests against Australia in March 2018.
India had arrived in South Africa on 124 points, with South Africa 13 points behind on 111 points. However, Kohli's men will return on 121 points as opposed to South Africa's 115 points, which will be good enough for them to keep possession of the prestigious ICC Test Championship mace for the second year in succession at the April cut-off.
Kohli will be presented with the mace, which is a symbol of excellence and a recognition of a side's outstanding performance in the purest format of the game, and a cheque of USD 1million in a presentation ceremony.
Proud prouder proudest. Hats off to the whole team for showing character throughout. This day will always be special. Jai hind pic.twitter.com/z2T0er5fLd
— Virat Kohli (@imVkohli) January 27, 2018
Had South Africa pulled off a 3-0 series win against India, then a win by 2-0 or better against Australia would have helped them reclaim the mace that they had last won in 2015.
Now, South Africa will have to win at least one Test against Australia to retain second place in the Test table, which, in turn, will earn them USD 500,000.
In this scenario, Australia will pocket USD 200,000 for a third-place finish. However, if Australia win by 3-0 or 4-0, then they will leapfrog South Africa into second place.
The winner of the two-Test New Zealand vs England series, which will also be played in March 2018, will decide the side that finishes fourth on the table and will take home USD 100,000.
A drawn series will mean New Zealand will finish ahead of England.
The cut-off for this year has been adjusted to April 3, 2018, which is the final day of the four-Test series between South Africa and Australia in Johannesburg, as well as last day of the two-Test series between New Zealand and England in Christchurch.
India end Test series in South Africa with 63-run win in 3rd match:
— BCCI (@BCCI) January 27, 2018
Mohammed Shami led India's fightback with a career-best five-wicket haul as India snapped nine wickets for 53 runs on Saturday to bowl out South Africa for 177 and avoided a whitewash in the three-match series.
Overall, the four full- time seamers shared all 20 wickets in the match, which ended on the fourth day.
Shami ended with figures of 12.3-2-28-5, while Jasprit Bumrah (2/57), Ishant Sharma (2/31) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1/39) shared the other five wickets.
With this win, India also kept their unbeaten record intact at the Wanderers. It was their second victory in five Tests with the other three being draws.
Opener Dean Elgar, who took a nasty blow on his helmet and forced early stumps on Friday, remained unbeaten on 86 even as four of his colleagues could not even open their account.
(With PTI inputs)