Captain Virat Kohli holds the Test Championship Mace after India finished on top of the Test rankings with 116 points, edging out New Zealand by eight points in the race to the top. Image Credit: ICC

Dubai: India have finished at the top of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Test rankings and taken home the purse of $1 million for a third consecutive year, the governing body said on Monday.

India, who registered their first series victory in Australia at the turn of the year, finished with 116 points on the April 1 cut-off date, eight points ahead of New Zealand, who finished second and took home $500,000.

South Africa finished third with 105 points, while Australia finished with 104 points to finish fourth, a few decimal points ahead of England.

While a top-place finish was never in doubt for India, New Zealand’s consistent performances over the past year saw them climb from third position, needing 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, finished 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.

International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive Manu Sawhney congratulated the Indian team while reiterating the importance of Test cricket and looking forward to the start of the ICC World Test Championship later this year.

“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 under way 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.”

A delighted India skipper 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.”

ICC Test Team Rankings
Pos Country Points
1. India 116
2. New Zealand 108
3. South Africa 105
4. Australia 104
5. England 104
6. Sri Lanka 93
7. Pakistan 88
8. West Indies 77
9. Bangladesh 69
10. Zimbabwe 13