ICC Test Rankings: India end season as number one team

Sport360 staff 29/03/2017

India have retained the ICC Test Championship mace and have been awarded $1 million as they will end the annual cut-off date on April 1 as the number one Test team in the world.

Having just beaten Australia 2-1 in a four-Test series, the Indian team – with a rating of 122 – have a healthy lead at the top.

Speaking about the feat, India captain Virat Kohli said: “The longest format of the game really tests a team’s character and I’m proud that we have proved ourselves to be the best.”

South Africa, on the other hand, have managed to displace Australia as the second-ranked Test team after their away series win against New Zealand. The Proteas won the three-match series 1-0 after play was abandoned due to rain on the final day of the third Test.

South Africa will receive a cash award of $500,000 for finishing second while Australia will be awarded $200,000 and fourth-placed England will receive $100,000.

The complete rankings can be seen in the gallery above.

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REPORTS: BCCI, Indian government not in talks over Pakistan series

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India vs Pakistan has been a regular fixture in ICC tournaments [Sportzpics]

According to ANI, there have been no talks between the Board of Control for Cricket in India [BCCI] and the Government of India regarding the possibility of playing a bilateral series with Pakistan.

Earlier in the day, there were some claims that the BCCI had approached the Indian government over the possibility of India playing Pakistan in the latter’s adopted home of the UAE.

Water was quickly thrown on those reports, however, dampening any initial hope of the two nations renewing their cricketing rivalry any time soon.

India and Pakistan last played each other in a bilateral series in 2012-13 when Pakistan toured India for three ODIs and two T20Is. The last time the two countries faced off in Test cricket was back in 2007.

According to the ICC’s Future Tours Programme, Pakistan are to tour India in late 2017 for three Tests, five ODIs, and two T20Is but that is unlikely to go ahead because of political tensions between the two countries.

India and Pakistan, though, will play each other in a highly-anticipated fixture at the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy at Edgbaston, Birmingham on June 4.

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Aakash Chopra: Second day of Bengaluru Test was the turning point

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Jadeja has come of age as a Test all-rounder [Sportzpics]

In this series, while Australia came prepared, India arrived late.

After beating England and New Zealand with minimum fuss, the result in Pune came as a rude shock and a timely reminder that every Test match has to be won and every opposition has to be respected.

It also taught all of us in the media that Test cricket isn’t so much about what happened in the past (Australia couldn’t even draw a Test in Sri Lanka and India didn’t lose a single Test in over a year) but only about what happens on the day.

TURNING POINT

After winning the first day of the second Test, Australia needed to win just one more day to seal the fate of the series, and that’s when India arrived. The way India bowled on the second day of the second Test revealed the true character of this young team.

It’s not that they bowled Australia inside fifty overs and secured the first innings lead, but their desperation for the cause ensured that Australia didn’t run away with the game. It was the turning point of the series from India’s perspective.

After conceding a slender first innings lead, once again, India dug deep with Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane to keep the game alive. Pujara went on to score a double hundred in Ranchi but his innings of 92 in Bengaluru was not just his best innings of the series but also, one of the best Test innings of his career.

JADEJA, THE TEST ALL-ROUNDER

For the longest time, Ravindra Jadeja remained Ravichandran Ashwin’s understudy and assumed the role of the support cast. His six wickets in the first innings of the second Test and again a five-wicket haul in the first innings of Ranchi finally brought him out of Ashwin’s shadow.

Taking wickets in the first innings of a Test match requires a lot of skills and guile because the pitch isn’t as responsive. Accuracy has always been Jadeja’s best friend but in this home season, he also acquainted himself to subtle variations in pace and spin.

The Saurashtra spinner has started bowling a lot closer to the stumps and also, a little slower from time to time, which in turn has made him an all-weather bowler.

In addition to his bowling, this home season saw him arrive and mature as a Test batsman. His innings of 63 in Dharamshala turned the Test and the series in India’s favour.

UMESH EXPRESS HAS ARRIVED

It’s not often that you see an Indian seamer outpace and outbowl his Australian counterparts but the spell that sealed the deal for India in Dharamshala did just that.

Umesh Yadav bowled with a lot of steam on the third-day pitch and removed both openers before half the lead was wiped out. There are certain spells in Test matches that leave an indelible mark on one’s memory and his spell in Dharamshala will go down as one of them.

Considering that it was the last match of a long home season (Umesh played 12 out of the 13 Tests), it was incredible to see that he had enough fuel left in the tank to bowl a fiery spell.

Umesh has arrived at the international stage and once Mohammed Shami is fit, will form a bowling pair to fear in the future.

LOST TOSSES, LOST THE CAPTAIN BUT WON THE SERIES

The highlight of this series was the fact that India lost three tosses, captain Virat Kohli lost his form and then India lost him due to an injury and still the scoreline read 2-1 in the end.

In fact, not just Kohli, but Rahane and Karun Nair also didn’t find their groove until the end and that didn’t dent India’s belief and resolve. Pujara, KL Rahul, and Wriddhiman Saha stood up on multiple occasions and won crucial sessions-moments.

The sign of a good team is that it’s not reliant on one or two individuals to perform all the time, for it’s a collection of match-winners, and this home season has illustrated that this team has what it takes to remain at the top for a long time.

Now that the trophy is won and the dust is settled, I hope that both the players and fans remember this series for the exhilarating cricket it produced over the four Test matches.

There hasn’t been a single Test in the series that didn’t provide opportunities to both sides and in the end, it was only a matter of India seizing a few more opportunities than the Australians.

In the era of home domination, this series will go a long way in reigniting the love for Test cricket.

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