India have retained the International Cricket Council (ICC) Test Championship mace and won the purse of $1 million for the third consecutive year after finishing at the top of the Test team rankings on the cut-off date of April 1.
Meanwhile, New Zealand are standing at the second spot in the latest rankings released by the world's cricket governing body.
A top place finish was never in doubt for India, led by Virat Kohli, the number one Test batsman in the world while New Zealand’s consistent performances over the past year saw them climb from the 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 $500,000 after finishing with 108 points, eight behind India.
South Africa, who had finished second the previous two times, 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 the Indian team while also reiterating the importance of the longest format of the game.
ICC Chief Executive Manu Sawhney said, “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. It takes so much dedication and determination to consistently perform at the highest level in Test cricket."
“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. The World Test Championship gets underway in August and will give fans greater context for all Test cricket providing an undisputed conclusion to some of the most renowned cricket rivalries in the international game.
“Nine Test nations will compete across 27 series and 71 Test matches to reach the ICC World Test Championship Final in 2021 where the World Test Champions will be crowned," he added.
India captain Virat Kohli said, “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. We all know of the importance of Test cricket and of how only the best can prosper in the format."
“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," he added.
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson, on the other hand, said, “It’s an awesome achievement for our side to finish second in the ICC Test Team Rankings and 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. We’re now all really looking forward to the ICC World Test Championship getting underway and the added context the competition will bring.”