India now has a decent chance of making it to the ICC World Test Championship (WTC) final and hence another shot at winning the most coveted trophy in cricket thanks to their 2-0 series victory over Bangladesh.
In Southampton in 2021, India had fallen to New Zealand in the championship game.
After the first tournament in 2021-23, the WTC is currently on its second cycle. It is played as a two-year league between the top nine Test playing sides, followed by a knockout final between the two teams that finish with the most points. This season, the championship game will take place in June at The Oval in London.
India is in second place with 58.93% points, followed by Australia at the top of the table with 76.92% of the total points available to them. A victory awards a team 12 points, a tie awards 6, and a draw awards 4.
Australia has played 13 tests so far and still has six more, including the one currently being played in Melbourne, one against South Africa in Sydney, and a four-test series in India. India has played 14 Test matches and still has their match against Australia on the schedule.
The Australian team will almost certainly make the final. In the worst-case scenario, they would still need to collect 63.15 percent of the possible points even if they won the current Test against South Africa in Melbourne but lost the following one in Sydney and fell down 1-3 to India away in February or March.
India would finish with 62.5 percent of the points if they defeat Australia 3-1 at home. If the series is tied, India will still have 56.94% of the points. Considering the five penalty points each had received in both instances for having slow over speeds. Losing the series is unaffordable for India.
South Africa and Sri Lanka are hot on India's trail. If the first two Tests in Australia were separated, the former would lose their current 54.55 percent of the vote to only 53.84 percent.
There are still two Test matches for the Sri Lankan team to play in New Zealand. In the best-case scenario, they draw the series; in that case, they will end their campaign with 52.78%, down from 53.33%.
Australia has suffered 4-Test series losses of 2-0, 4-0, and 2-1 in their previous three trips to India. The Australians definitely closed the ability gap with India in the most recent match in 2016–17, played in Indian conditions. To further the advancement, they won a series in Pakistan earlier this year.
The Australian middle order of Marcus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, and Travis Head has demonstrated a rich vein of form against the West Indies and now South Africa. While the quick bowlers, namely Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon, who bowls off-spin, continue to be quite effective.
After the Bangladesh series, India, on the other hand, is left perplexed. The bowling attack's potential against a batting lineup of Australia's calibre and Virat Kohli and K.L. Rahul's struggles against spin are also key causes for concern.
Rohit Sharma's return might strengthen the top order, but it might not be a bad idea for all Indian team hopefuls to play Ranji Trophy cricket again in January to sharpen their skills before the series.
Additionally, the Australian pace attack is expected to bowl short to Shreyas Iyer despite the fact that he looked magnificent in Bangladesh. The bounce in the pitches may not help the visiting quicks much, but it wasn't ignored that he was out to rising deliveries on both of his two innings against England at Birmingham in the summer.
On Boxing Day, Lord Ian Botham and current captain Ben Stokes, England's talismans from the past and present, conversed on BBC Radio.
With an innovative limited overs approach to the five-day game, the latter and the team's head coach Brendon McCullum have exhilaratingly revolutionised Test cricket.
Stokes spelled out his mantra to Botham, who was acting as guest editor on Radio Four's Today programme.
"Taking the result away from the mindset is a great starting point. Putting focus on making every day entertaining. Not allowing people to know what is going to happen. If people turn up excited about what they are going to watch you've already won before a ball has been bowled," he said.
Botham, England's premier all-rounder of the 1980s, responded: "If we lose Test cricket, we lose cricket as we know it."
It's too late for England to enter the 2021-23 WTC final. But the way they have blown away opposition since last summer, including white-washing Pakistan away, they could pose a major threat in the 2023-2025 championship.