Led by Ravichandran Ashwin’s 13 wickets in the match – the most by an Indian bowler against New Zealand – India bowled out the visitors for 299 and 153 respectively in the two innings of the final Test. Kohli (211), Ajinkya Rahane (188) and Chesteshwar Pujara (101 not out) were the star performers with the bat. With the win in the third Test, India sealed the series 3-0. The Kohli-led side dethroned Pakistan to regain the top position, a confirmation that was sent by the ICC following India’s win in the second Test at the Eden Gardens.
Kohli is only the second Indian captain after Mahendra Singh Dhoni to receive the mace. This is the second time in the span of two months that India have been placed at the top of the Test rankings and the third time under the captaincy of Kohli, having reached the No. 1 position briefly in January-February this year.
“The last time we had the mace, I saw it as a player. Now I’m holding it as a captain. It’s a great feeling. It’s a great feeling to win the series and be the No. 1 team in the world…We will always try to improve as a side and play the kind of cricket we have been playing for the rest of the season,” Kohli said after receiving the mace.
“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 added.
While India’s longest run at the No. 1 position was under Dhoni – from November 2009 to August 2011 – Kohli is confident that his team can emulate such a run with strong performances both at home and away. “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 Test cricket is something altogether different. I’m 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.
Praising the Indian team for showing the mettle needed to excel in Test cricket, Gavaskar congratulated Kohli and his team while wishing the team success in their future endeavours. “I have always believed that Test cricket tests you in every way. To come out on top over a period of time and be acknowledged as the best in this format is a big achievement. It is a result of sustained efforts in different conditions. I have some fine memories of Test cricket from my playing days. Taking on a top team in Test cricket was what pumped us up and certainly something that I always looked forward to.
“There may be three formats of the game now but every cricketer knows that the challenge that Test cricket presents is much more and calls for a different set of skills, grit and character. I congratulate Virat and his team for this fine achievement and wish them all success in the coming years,” Gavaskar said.
Dave Richardson, the ICC chief executive, also congratulated the Indian team for reaching the stop position and he said the current rankings, with teams in touching distance of each other, augurs well for the longest format.
“I congratulate India for some fine performances which have helped it win the ICC Test Championship mace during a great period for Test cricket. The number-one ranking has changed hands three times in as many months, indicative of the current competitiveness of Test cricket at the highest level, which is great for players and fans.
“With other sides in touching distance of the top, the MRF ICC Test rankings continue to provide great context for the traditional format of the game. I wish India the very best in their efforts to stay at number one,” Richardson said.
India, currently with 115 points, have a four-point advantage over the second-placed Pakistan. Australia and England have 108 points apiece with the former placed at No. 3 when points are calculated beyond the decimal point.
Pakistan, who will take on West Indies in a three-match Test series this month, are also scheduled to travel to New Zealand and Australia over the next few months. England, who will take on Bangladesh in a two-Test series from October 20, will travel to India for a five-match Test series from November 9. Australia will host South Africa for three Test matches from November 3 and will play three Tests against Pakistan in December-January before travelling to India to play four Tests.
ICC Test rankings as on October 11, 2016