The changes made to qualification method for World Test Championship Final at Lord’s this summer owing to the pandemic forcing loss or postponement of matches, India were pushed to the second spot in the World Test Championship despite taking a healthy lead via points accumulated following their home series victories. A subsequent debacle in Adelaide last December worsened their chances for pushing for the top spot with New Zealand threat looming.
However, despite the injury issues and absence of Virat Kohli, India, with a third-string side humbled the daunting Aussies in their own backyard to retain the Border-Gavaskar series. And with the 2-1 series win, India have not just toppled Australia to reclaim the top spot in the WTC points table, they have consolidated their chances of qualifying for the Lord’s final.
India now have a points percentage of 71.67 with nine wins in 13 games in the tournament, standing only marginally ahead of New Zealand (70 per cent) who are placed second in the table. India will play one last series as part of the WTC campaign, against England at home – a four-match series which begins from February 5 in Chennai, hence implying 30 points per win. In a bid to consolidate their position in the table, India will need 80 more points from the allotted 120 points in the England series. Hence, a margin of 4-0, 3-1, 3-0, and even 2-0 can help India’s cause, and guarantee a spot in the WTC final irrespective of other results.
India have been an immovable force at home, losing only one out of their last 34 Tests with 28 wins. However, it was England who had last defeated India at home, 2-1 in the 2011/12 series.
Despite the MCG comeback by India, Australia were still favourites to win the series. They still were at the top of the table and remained atop after a resilient India salvaged a draw at the SCG. But the Gabba defeat has left them wounded in the WTC campaign as they slipped to the third spot with a points percentage of 69.2 following the three-wicket defeat.
They have one more series to go, against South Africa, albeit it is yet to be confirmed. In a bid to go past New Zealand, who have no more series to play, they will have to amass 93 more points from the three-game series, implying a win by a margin of at least 2-1.
Australia would have been in a comparatively better position had they not lost 4 penalty points due to slow over-rate at the MCG. In that case, Australia would have been tied with New Zealand with a points percentage of 70, but would be placed above the Black Caps by virtue of a superior runs per wicket. This also means that a 2-0 win in South Africa would guarantee them a spot in the Lord’s final.
They presently stand fourth in the table with a points percentage of 65.19 and have an outside chance of making it to the final if they whitewash Sri Lanka and then manage a 3-0 win in India. If they lose the second Test in Sri Lanka, they would have to aim for a clean sweep in India.
With no more Test series left in their account to make a difference in the points table, New Zealand can only hope that South Africa defeat Australia at home and India get the better of England in the impending series.