Race to WTC final: India have an uphill task but a turnaround is quite possible

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Tue, 02/08/2022
Race to WTC final: India have an uphill task but a turnaround is quite possible
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India, led by Rohit Sharma, finds itself in a precarious position as the fight for the two positions in the World Test Championship final next year heats up. India is currently fourth on the table and must give it their absolute best to clinch one of the two berths in the final. 

The International Cricket Council (ICC) provided an overview of what each Test-playing country must accomplish to guarantee a berth in the WTC final on Tuesday, and India appears to be facing a difficult task. India's performance at WTC23 has been much less than stellar, winning just four of their first nine games in the cycle, dropping three points because to overrate violations, and witnessing Virat Kohli submit his resignation.

With a clean sweep of Sri Lanka, the team's season is back on track, and there is optimism that they will mount a late charge as favourites in their remaining six games. They are at 52.08 percent of all possible points right now. 

India finished second in the inaugural World Test Championship in 2021 after falling to New Zealand in the championship match in England. 

The Rohit Sharma team ought to be too powerful for the neighbours. When Australia comes to Bangladesh early in the following year for a four-match Border Gavaskar series, they have history on their side. If they achieve the maximum number of points, a tantalising India-Pakistan World Cup final is very likely.

South Africa is now in first place in the WTC standings after strong showings against Bangladesh and India. 

The nine Test-playing countries' chances of earning spots in the WTC final are evaluated by the ICC as follows:

1. South Africa is first with 71.43% of the potential points. England (away, three Tests), West Indies (home, two Tests), and Australia are the remaining series (away, three Tests). 

What they must do: South Africa faces difficult away series against England and Australia, but the team has the talent to challenge both if their batting can keep up with their bowling assault. The way Dean Elgar's squad overcame a deficit to defeat India at home is an example of their tenacity.

2. Australia- 70% of the possible points. West Indies (at home, two Tests), South Africa (at home, three Tests), and India are the remaining series (away, four Tests). 

They must deposit home points into the bank. Pat Cummins' crew doesn't appear to be in the mood to concede simple points after narrowly missing the opportunity to play in the maiden WTC final. The team welcomes West Indies and South Africa for a total of five Tests after making the most of home advantage early on and winning Tests away from home in Pakistan and Sri Lanka. India continues to be Australia's largest obstacle to the championship.

The Australians will likely need to avoid losing several times in order to finish above their rivals on the standings when they play Rohit Sharma's team in the subcontinent for four Tests next year in a location they haven't won at since 2004. The Australians' winning percentage of 63.16 percent—resulting from five wins at home and four losses away—is insufficient to hold off India, presuming Rohit's team sweeps Bangladesh first.

3. Sri Lanka received 53.33% of all potential points. New Zealand is still in the series (away, two Tests). 

They must shock New Zealand and hope that other series will go their way. Sri Lanka would have had a better chance of competing in the WTC23 final if they had defeated Australia and Pakistan at home without losing. Instead, Dimuth Karunaratne's team will be regretting squandered opportunities due to poor home performances that render their chances minimal at best. There is only one series left for Sri Lanka, a two-Test tour to New Zealand, where they have only been successful twice in 19 tries. Maximum points in New Zealand would get them to 61.1%, thus in order to change the standings, they'll need assistance from the underdog teams farther down the table.

4. India scored 52.08% of all possible points. 

5. Pakistan received 51.85% of the possible points. England (home, three Tests) and New Zealand are the two remaining series (home, two Tests)

What they must do: At their best, Pakistan is a top-three WTC team, but a few mistakes could keep Babar Azam's squad from making a historic final appearance. The team's first series loss to the West Indies by one wicket may come back to haunt them as they were unable to fend off an aggressive Australia in the first series between the two teams to be played in Pakistan since 1998. But there's still still, as their final five Test matches are all at home against teams from outside the area. Five victories would increase their percentage to 69.05%, which, given that Australia and South Africa are playing each other, is almost certain to secure them a position in the finals.

6. West Indies earned 50% of all possible points. South Africa (away, two Tests), Australia are the final two series (away, two Tests). 

Make runs and create history away from home is what they must do. The West Indies can end with 65.38 percent, but would need to win all four games in challenging away circumstances to guarantee an improbable spot in the WTC23 championship game.

7. England- 33.33% of possible points. Pakistan and South Africa will play the final two series at home (away, three Tests). 

They must be ready for the upcoming cycle. It's too late for England to create a fight for a place in the final, despite the fact that the team appears to be a different prospect with a new coach and captain. The team will be watching the final from home after losing seven of its previous 16 tests and having one win erased for multiple overrate violations.

8. New Zealand- 25.93% of all possible points. Pakistan (away, two Tests), and Sri Lanka are the final two series (home, two Tests). 

The defending World Test winners can only finish with a best percentage of 48.72 percent, which falls far short of the required percentage to compete in the final the following year. 

9. Bangladesh -13.33% of all possible points. India's remaining series (home, two Tests) 

What they need to do is finish the race and get ready for the following round. The team hasn't defeated New Zealand at home in a Test match so far in the campaign, but they did so on Mount Maunganui.