India took the ICC Test Championship Mace for the third successive year ©Getty Images

India have been awarded the International Cricket Council (ICC) Test Championship Mace for the third consecutive year.

They finished top of the ICC Test team rankings, securing $1million (£766,285/€893,630) in prize money. 

Captained by Virat Kohli, the number one Test batsman in the world, India accumulated 116 points. 

They achieved their first Test series victory in Australia in January.

New Zealand are in second with 108 points, earning them $500,000 (£383,223/€446,805).

They have taken the place of South Africa, who are now third with 105 points, giving them a prize of $200,000 (£153,484/€178,739).

Australia and England both finished on 104 points, with the former side securing fourth place on decimal points. 

They banked $100,000 (£76,736/€89,356) in prize money.

The inaugural World Test Championship begins in August, with nine Test nations competing across 27 series and 71 Test matches to reach the ICC World Test Championship inal in 2021.

India's captain Virat Kohli said the team were
India's captain Virat Kohli said the team were "proud" of securing the ICC Test Championship Mace ©Getty Images

“I congratulate India on retaining the ICC Test Championship Mace and appreciate the passion Virat Kohli’s team has shown across formats over the past few years," said ICC chief executive Manu Sawhney.

"It takes so much dedication and determination to consistently perform at the highest level.

“Test cricket has been enjoying a purple patch over the past couple of years with more positive results than ever and a genuine competitive balance between nations. 

"The World Test Championship gets under way in August and will give fans greater context for all Test cricket providing an undisputed conclusion to some of the most renowned cricket rivalries in the international game.

“Retaining the ICC Test Championship Mace once again is something we are really proud of," added Kohli.

"Our team has been doing well across formats but it gives us extra pleasure to come out on top of the Test rankings. 

"We all know of the importance of Test cricket and of how only the best can prosper in the format.

“Our team has a lot of depth and I am sure this will stand us in good stead once the ICC World Test Championship commences later this year. 

"That is again something we are really looking forward to as it adds more context to Test match cricket.”