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Virat Kohli , Kagiso Rabada End Notable Year On Top

India captain Virat Kohli and South Africa fast bowler Kagiso Rabada have maintained their top positions in the MRF Tyres ICC Test Player Rankings at the year-end after 2018 saw them achieve several milestones including from the rankings perspective.

Kohli dropped three points despite a first innings score of 82 in the third Test in Melbourne, but still enjoys a 34-point lead over Kane Williamson. Kohli, who attained a career-high 937 points during the year, which is the highest ever by an India batsman, scored 1322 runs in all. Kohli overtook Steven Smith in August and has now held the top position for 135 days.

Rabada, who split the top ranking with England’s seasoned fast bowler James Anderson during the year, is just six points ahead of his adversary. Rabada, who became the youngest to take top position among bowlers during the year and held the spot for 178 days during the year, grabbed six wickets in the opening match at Centurion that South Africa won by six wickets to finish with 52 wickets in 10 Tests in 2018.

Kohli’s compatriot Cheteshwar Pujara has maintained fourth position after a first-innings century in Melbourne, wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant has gained 10 slots to reach a career-best 38th position while debutant opener Mayank Agarwal has entered the batsmen’s list at an impressive 67th place after scores of 76 and 42 helped his side win by 137 runs for a 2-1 lead in the four-match series,

Jasprit Bumrah has moved from 28th to 12th after his match haul of nine for 86, the best-ever by an India seam bowler in Australia. He is now the highest-ranked India fast bowler in the format with Mohammed Shami next in 23rd position.

For Australia, Pat Cummins has been the pick, gaining five slots to reach a career-best third position after finishing with nine wickets in the match. He has also gained 13 slots to reach 91st place among batsmen with some useful runs down the order. Travis Head (up seven places to 56th) has also benefitted in the latest rankings update.

New Zealand fast bowlers have a lot to cheer about following their record 423-run win over Sri Lanka in Christchurch. Trent Boult’s nine wickets in the match have helped him gain seven slots to reach seventh position while Tim Southee (up two places to ninth) and Neil Wagner (up one place to 15th) have also moved up.

Century-makers at Christchurch, Henry Nicholls (up two places to seventh) and Tom Latham (up eight places to 14th), and Jeet Raval (up two places to 35th) have also gained in the latest rankings update.

Sri Lanka’s Kusal Mendis, the only player apart from Kohli to score 1,000 runs in the year and who reacheded a career-high of 12th place in the ICC batting rankings in June, has gained two slots to finish the year in 16th position.

For South Africa, former captain Hashim Amla (up three places to 11th place) and Temba Bavuma (up four places to 31st) have gained among batsmen while fast bowler Duanne Olivier has gained 17 places to reach 36th position after his player of the match effort of 11 wickets.

Pakistan’s Babar Azam has gained nine slots to reach 27th position after innings of 71 and six while left-arm fast bowlers Mohammad Amir (up two places to 34th) and Shaheen Afridi (up 38 places to 73rd) have advanced after taking four and five wickets in Centurion.

Mohammad Abbas, who had a sensational year during which he took 38 Test wickets at an average of 13.76 and reached number three in the rankings after just 10 Tests, finished the year in fifth position.

Meanwhile, New Zealand have leapfrogged South Africa to take third place in the MRF Tyres ICC Test Team Rankings after starting the series against Sri Lanka with a chance of going up to second position with a 2-0 win.

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