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Australia face uphill task to reach WTC final

World Test Championship final © AFP
The inaugural cycle of the World Test Championship is in its final stages, with three teams realistically having a shot at a spot in the final to be played at Lord’s. India have done themselves a great favour with a series win for the ages Down Under and have a foot already in the final. New Zealand are done with their assignments and now face an anxious wait as India take on England and Australia play South Africa.

World Test Championship points table

Rank Team PCT Points Series Played Matches RpW
1 India 71.67% 430 5 13 1.62
2 New Zealand 70.00% 420 5 11 1.28
3 Australia 69.17% 332 4 14 1.39
4 England 65.19% 352 5* 16 1.24
5 South Africa 40.00% 144 3 9 0.68
6 Pakistan 30.74% 166 4.5 10 0.72
7 Sri Lanka 19.05% 80 4* 7 0.57
8 West Indies 11.11% 40 3 7 0.49
9 Bangladesh 0.00% 0 1.5 3 0.35

  • at the end of the Gabba Test; PCT = points earned/points available; RpW = Runs per Wicket ratio

The series between India and England is of four Tests duration where a win would fetch 30 points and a draw 10 points. South Africa-Australia rubber has three matches, and a win would fetch 40 points and a draw 13 points.

India

A terrific win at the Gabba and the 2-1 series win against Australia has given India some breathing space. India are on top of the points table with 430 points which gives them a PCT of 71.67%. They need to reach 505 points to pip New Zealand to earn a direct qualification for the final without depending on the South Africa-Australia series. To reach 505 points, India need to beat England by a margin of 4-0 or 3-0 or 3-1 or 2-0.

Australia

The series defeat against India at home has put Australia under pressure heading into the South Africa series. They currently have 69.16% (332 points) and if the scheduled tour to South Africa doesn’t happen, they will finish just below New Zealand (70%) and will miss a spot in the finals unless England spring a surprise series win in India.

Had they not lost the four points for slow over-rate at MCG, Australia could have been tied on PCT with New Zealand at 70.00% and could have progressed thanks to their superior Runs per Wicket ratio over the trans-Tasman neighbours. For Australia to qualify without depending on other results, they would need series wins by a 3-0 or 2-0 margin against South Africa.

New Zealand

New Zealand is the first side to finish all their assignments in the first cycle of WTC and they sit with 70.00% PCT winning 420 of the 600 points they contested for. For them to qualify, at least two of India, Australia or England should finish below 70.00 per cent. For England to go past New Zealand on PCT, they would need to win the second Test against Sri Lanka and then win either by 4-0 or 3-0 margins in India – both of which looks highly unlikely. How India and Australia can finish ahead of New Zealand have already been mentioned in the previous paragraphs.

England

All England have at the moment is an outside chance. For England to qualify, they need to beat Sri Lanka in the second Test at Galle, then win the series in India by any margin and hope Australia don’t win the series in South Africa. Given India’s outstanding home record and the fact that they have only lost a solitary Test at home in the last eight years, it’ll take a herculean effort from England to pull that off.

A tie would change the equations considerably as it would mean the participating sides would get 50% of the points for that particular match compared to 33% for a draw. Points docked for slow-over rate could also, bring in a change in equations as the prospective margin between India, Australia and New Zealand look very fine at the moment.

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