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WTC final qualification scenario: Can Australia still qualify?

With Australia’s tour to South Africa postponed, New Zealand has got a chance to become the first team to make it to the final of the inaugural World Test Championship, (subject to Australia not playing South Africa before the WTC cycle comes to an end). They will be joined by either Australia, India or England depending on the scoreline of the upcoming four-Test series in India.

World Test Championship points table (as on Feb 2, 2021)

Rank Team PCT Points earned Points contested Series RpW
1 India 71.70% 430 600 5 1.619
2 New Zealand 70.00% 420 600 5 1.281
3 Australia 69.17% 332 480 4 1.392
4 England 68.67% 412 600 5 1.251
5 Pakistan 37.67% 226 600 5.5* 0.785
6 South Africa 34.29% 144 420 4* 0.677
7 Sri Lanka 16.67% 80 480 4 0.586
8 West Indies 11.11% 40 360 3 0.493
9 Bangladesh 0.00% 0 180 1.5 0.351

  • Ongoing series

PCT = points earned/points available; RpW = Runs per Wicket ratio

The series between India and England is of four Tests where a win would fetch 30 points and a draw 10 points.

India

A terrific win at the Gabba and the eventual 2-1 series win Down Under has India with a foot in the door with a series in hand. India currently sits on top of the points table with 430 points which gives them a PCT of 71.67%. They would need to reach 499 points to pip Australia. To reach 499 points, India would need to beat England by a margin of 4-0, 3-0, 3-1, 2-0 or 2-1.

Australia

The postponing of the South Africa tour has put Australia’s chance of qualification in jeopardy. Given the busy calendar, the tour is highly unlikely to get rescheduled within the current cycle of WTC which effectively puts their fate in the hands of India and England. For Australia to qualify, they would need any of the three scenarios to happen in the India-England series:

(i) India – England series ends in a draw by any margin

(ii) India don’t win by a margin higher than 1-0

(iii) England win a maximum of two Tests

Had they not lost the four points for slow over-rate at MCG, Australia could have 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.

England

An outstanding 2-0 win will give England more than an outside chance to contest in the WTC final at home. England have their task cut out with India’s outstanding home record in the recent past and the fact that they have lost just a solitary Test at home in the last eight years. They would need to win at least three Tests out of the four in India to make it to the final.

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 England look very fine at the moment.

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