Hard as it to imagine, but the qualification process just became a little more tricky for India. Should India be worried?
Blame it on the pandemic, but the ICC World Test Championship, which seemed to be in the bag as far as India were concerned but still be a tricky road to the finish. While the International Cricket Council refused to call off the inaugural ICC World Test Championship whose final will be held at Lord’s later this year, they did make amendments to the points system calling it the percentage of points.
That meant, India, who were sitting pretty at the top of the table, had to contend with the adjustments made, making their tour of Australia even more significant than just defending their last overseas success down under.
True to form, New Zealand not only managed to stay competitive in their series against the West Indies and Pakistan but also, managed to upstage the table, to now occupy the top post. While it is bad news for teams like India, it is great for the game of cricket, coming out of a relatively restrained year when cricket was few and far and between.
What this does is make the first of its kind Test championship more interesting with one more team throwing their hat into the ring. That would not have looked likely on the old points system and particularly coming on the back of a year that saw more than one tour cancelled or postponed because of the inefficacy of being able to create a biosecure bubble without considering logistics and financial ramifications.
The permutations and combinations for India have become a little more complicated on their route to getting back in top position. For one, the simplest way they could avoid any of the mathematical equations is simply to beat Australia to the post by winning the two remaining Tests, which is easier said than done even if India are coming on the back of a stupendous win to level the series.
For India, despite Ajinkya Rahane’s leadership in the absence of Virat Kohli, India have to fight not only Australia’s resurgence but also, the weather elements in Sydney which are expected to come into play, making the race the top post even more intriguing.
It is hard not to see the top league teams make the final. But what New Zealand have done, through the likes of the prodigious Kyle Jamieson and the prolific Kane Williamson is sound a warning that the highest format of the game is not the domain of the big three – India, Australia, England.
It makes the next three months rather interesting in the race of qualification for the first-ever final, not to mention, adding another spicy angle to the feisty battle for supremacy down under.