Kiran More WTC final
The Indian cricket team, which reached the final of the inaugural ICC World Test Championship 2019-21, will be aiming to go the distance in the new 2021-23 cycle.

The Indian cricket team, which reached the final of the inaugural ICC World Test Championship 2019-21, will be aiming to go the distance in the new 2021-23 cycle. India started the WTC on a bright note, earning a 2-1 series lead in England. They also beat New Zealand 1-0 at home and could have won 2-0 if not for the final wicket resistance shown by the tourists. There is one more match left which was earlier cancelled because of the novel coronavirus. 

However, despite starting well in South Africa, India surrendered the three-match Test series by a 2-1 margin. This was a cruel blow for the side in what became Virat Kohli’s last assignment as Test captain. India have three more Test series as part of the WTC cycle and need to find the best results to have a chance of finishing in the top two. The road to the final for India looks tricky, and they need several results to go their way and make the cut. 

Here we analyze India’s position in the WTC table and how they could gain qualification.

Team India is placed fifth in the WTC standings

After a series loss to the Proteas, Team India has slipped to fifth in the WTC standings. India claimed 49.07 percentage points so far and have a total of 43 points. They have played nine Tests across three series, winning four, drawing two, and losing three. They have also been docked a few points for slow over-rate. India finds themselves dropping down with the points percentage system governing the WTC table.

What is the complete scenario of the WTC table?

The Sri Lankan cricket team is top of the WTC table, having played one Test series and claiming a 100% PCT. The Asian side is followed by Australia, who won The Ashes 4-0 and have claimed 86.66 PCT. They have played one series as well. Pakistan are third with 75% PCT, having won three Tests and lost one out of the two series so far. SA, who played their maiden Test series versus India, have 66.66% PCT with a 2-1 result in their favour. New Zealand are sixth, having lost one and drawn another Test series (33.33% PCT). They are followed by Bangladesh (25.00% PCT), West Indies (25.00% PCT) and England (9.25% PCT).

India’s schedule and what they need

India are supposed to play a total of 18 Tests across six series. They are scheduled to play eight Tests at home and 10 away. So far, they have played two Tests at home and seven away. India’s next series is against Sri Lanka at home in February- March 2022. They also have a four-Test series at home versus Australia in October 2022 and a two-match affair at Bangladesh away. One match against England is also on offer.

India are the favorites to beat Sri Lanka at home, besides also overcoming Bangladesh. The one Test against England will also be massive. Given England’s struggles, India would be deemed as favorites. However, it’s the four-match series against Australia which will be massive. India have dominated the scenes against the Aussies of late, but the latter are a solid Test side that can trouble India’s shaky middle-order. This series can be decisive for India.

India have nine Tests left, and if things go well, they will be backed to win all nine. However, if India draw versus England or lose the match and get mixed results versus the Aussies, things could be different.

How can other results favour India? Who are the contenders?

Australia may have won The Ashes, however, they have three tricky away assignments in the sub-continent. Their next is a three-match series versus Pakistan in Karachi, Rawalpindi, and Lahore. Then there is Sri Lanka, who can be productive at home. They host Australia for a two-Test series. So if Australia fall short in these two nations, India will be strong favorites. Australia are expected to beat West Indies at home but have another tough series versus SA.

South Africa have a difficult away series versus New Zealand, England, and Australia. If results get split here, India will have their noses ahead. India would want NZ and England to help them here. 

Lastly, Pakistan can be highly influential. They have what it takes to get the job done. They have several assignments in Asia against Australia, Sri Lanka, and England. They will also be hosting New Zealand. Looking at these series, Pakistan are the hot favorites to pull the plug and reach the summit clash. And if they post crucial wins and India get the job done, we might be in for an India-Pakistan show in the final. One expects these two sides to finish in Top 2.

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