India finish No.1 in the annual Test rankings for 5th straight time

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WTC Finals will lead cricket action this summer

The Indian team retained their top spot in the ICC Test rankings for the year. It is the fifth consecutive time that India has topped the annual Test rankings. With that India also continue to retain the Test mace that they received in 2017. India under Virat Kohli had flourished in the traditional format and the said record is self-explanatory to their prowess.

The Indian team in the last few years has won matches everywhere and in every condition and has not gone down without a fight, even in the series that they’ve lost. They recently became the only Asian team to have beaten Australia in a home Test series ever and the first in 33 years to breach the Australian fortress – Gabba. The kind of performances India’s had over the last 4-5 years in England, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, West Indies, and virtually every single country that they’ve played in well justifies their apex ranking.

India haven't let go off the ICC Test Mace since regaining it in 2017
India hasn’t let go of the ICC Test Mace since regaining it in 2017

The kind of team coach Ravi Shastri and captain Kohli have developed over these years has been phenomenal. Together, the team has managed to build the right culture and atmosphere, resulting in sound individual development and restructuring of the bench strength, with utmost precision and efficiency. The fact that Indian cricket could today think of sending two separate teams for two separate series at the same time is highly creditable to the Indian side. Each of the 23-men in the Indian team for the England tour is worthy of getting a game and performing to their best, with the recent Australian tour as proof.

Team India’s presence in the World Test Championship (WTC) Finals is, therefore, not a surprise given the form and authority they’ve had throughout the cycle. The ability to come back from behind, the ability to take on and overcome stern challenges, the will to perform in testing conditions, and the sheer love and intent for the traditional Test format have been surreal to watch, even for the fans. It is also fitting to see India take on New Zealand in the Finals of the WTC who finished the year-end ranking as a close second. There is only a solitary point (IND 121 and NZ 120) that separates the two sides at the top. However, the two are adrift the trailing lot by a good 11 point margin.

England, who’ve had a rich cricketing post-covid era gained up a place from last year,  end at the third spot with 109 rating points, closely edging their arch-rivals Australia with 108. Out of the Top 4 teams, every other team fails to even cross 100 in the ratings. Pakistan, West Indies, South Africa, and Sri Lanka complete the Top 8 while Bangladesh and Zimbabwe occupy the bottom 2 positions.

The islanders from the Caribbean though are the biggest gainers of the year gaining up to two places from the last iteration. Windies had a decent series against England winning one of the Tests in English conditions. They also went on to historically whitewash Bangladesh in an away series and then do enough to keep Sri Lanka at bay at home. Overall, Windies have coped up well to their change in setup and are set to become a team once again known for their fightbacks.

Meanwhile, South Africa finds themselves in their lowest-ever Test ranking at the 7th spot. Bangladesh who lost consecutive Test series to West Indies and Sri Lanka lost 5 rating points while Zimbabwe gained 8 from their designated tenure.

The announcement of the annual rankings comes in at a perfect time as the world builds up for the World Test Championship Finals at Southampton between India and New Zealand starting June 18. With both teams closely fighting for the top spot, the final will be a perfect culmination of their efforts of the last three years.

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