India captain Virat Kohli was on Tuesday presented with the ICC Test Championship mace for leading his team to the top of the Test Team Rankings.
The mace was presented by former India captain and ICC Cricket Hall of Famer Sunil Gavaskar at a ceremony following the conclusion of the third and final Test against New Zealand in Indore after the home team completed a 3-0 whitewash.
India were guaranteed number-one spot on the ICC Test Team Rankings after it took a 2-0 lead by winning the second Test in Kolkata. Since the Test team rankings are only updated at the end of a series, India formally replaced Pakistan at the top of the table at the end of the Indore Test, which they won by 321 runs.
“It’s an honour and a moment of great pride to receive the ICC Test Championship mace. To be recognised as the best in the traditional form of the game is as good as it gets for any team and stuff that dreams are made of,” Kohli said.
Kohli became only the second India captain after Mahendra Singh Dhoni and the 10th international skipper overall to receive the mace, even though it is for the third time since Kohli took over as captain that India have led the rankings table.
India had topped the rankings very briefly in January-February this year as well as in August. India’s longest stint at the number-one position was from November 2009 to August 2011 under Dhoni.
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).
Kohli credited his players for performing consistently to take the team to the top.
“Individual performances are important, but in the end it is what those performances do for the team that matter. If we have been able to become the best in the world, it is because there is a lot of bonding among team members and there is always someone to raise his hand in a difficult situation. I think that is what makes a top side.
“I would like to thank all players and support staff, who have all been part of our team because I feel such an achievement is only possible with contribution from all quarters. To reach the top of the Test rankings takes a lot of hard work and perseverance,” the India captain said.
Kohli said playing Test cricket is an ambition for any cricketer and to be part of such a team is to be treasured.
“We all grow up playing cricket, hoping to represent our country in Test cricket. But to be part of a team that does well continuously in Tests is something altogether different. I am confident we will continue to win matches at home as well as abroad in the coming seasons. I want this team to be remembered as one of the finest Test teams ever,” Kohli said.