Cape Town: Indian skipper Virat Kohli was presented with the ICC Test Championship Mace for topping the Test team rankings here on Saturday.
On behalf of the ICC, the mace was presented by ICC Cricket Hall of Famers Sunil Gavaskar and Graeme Pollock at a ceremony at the Newlands Stadium here after India concluded the tour of South Africa by clinching the T20 International series 2-1, following a seven-run win in third match.
India ensured the No. 1 spot and a prize of $1 million after their victory in the third Test at Johannesburg against South Africa last month. The win ensured that no team can move ahead of India in the Test rankings at the April 3 cut-off date.
India won the prize for a second year running and have now been at the top of the rankings since October, 2016. They have also been at the top two times before under Kohli in January-February, 2016, and in August, 2016.
India's longest stint at the No. 1 position was from November, 2009, to August, 2011, when Mahendra Singh Dhoni was the captain.
The other captains to have received the mace are Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, Steve Smith (all Australia), Andrew Strauss (England), Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla (both South Africa) and Misbah-ul-Haq (Pakistan).
“It's truly a great feeling to hold the ICC Test Championship mace again, which is an acknowledgment of our success in the truest format of the game," Kohli said.
“We are proud of the way we have performed in Test matches over the past couple of years and our performances have reflected in the rankings. The quality of a side is judged in the way players step up when needed, and that is what our boys have done time and again."
Kohli said it has been challenging to succeed across formats and hoped his team will continue to set the bar high in future.
“It is heartening to be at the top of the Test rankings in an era when its challenging to do consistently well across formats. But that is something that we have managed fairly well and something that Id like my team to continue doing with their hard work and determination," he said.
“I would like to thank all players who have been part of our squads during this period and also the support staff for contributing to our success and for helping out in different aspects of the game. I would also like to thank all our fans for supporting us across the globe.”
ICC chief executive David Richardson congratulated India, saying: “India has been simply outstanding in Test cricket over the last twelve months and I would like to congratulate Virat and his team for retaining the mace. They have produced some memorable moments that will go down in Test match history.
“They are certainly deserving of their number one ranking doing so much to attract fans around the world to Test cricket with their entertaining and attacking style of play and great quality of cricket.”
Former India skipper Gavaskar said it was a moment of pride for him and wished the team luck for future assignment.
“It's really nice to be handing over the ICC Test Championship mace once again to the Indian captain. Its really a huge achievement to do well continuously in Test cricket and Virat should be a really proud man to have led his side to such success in this format," he said.
“Test cricket always tests the class of players and to be acknowledged as the best in the format by the game's world governing body is really a moment of great pride. Congratulations to Virat and the boys for this accomplishment and wish them all the best for the future.”