The four-match India-Australia Test series began on Thursday in Adelaide with a day-night contest played with a pink ball. The action will move to Melbourne for the Boxing Day Test followed by the New Year’s Test in Sydney, and the last Test match in Australia’s fortress, Brisbane.
Virat Kohli’s side was triumphant on their previous tour down under as India won its first-ever Test series in Australia. They would want to repeat that feat again. However, there are more incentives for Kohli’s side to – if not a series victory – try and win at least one match out of the 4 considering the ICC World Test Championship(WTC) 2019-21.
Australia firm favorites for the final, India and New Zealand eye a top-two finish
Before the covid-19 virus hit the world, before the lockdown, before cricket was halted, India was sitting comfortably at the top of the ICC World Test Championship points table. India does still have the most points, however, Tim Paine’s Australia is leading the charts as ICC altered the ranking system from points to the percentage (PCT) of points won out of the total number of points contested.
The governing council made this change owing to the cancellation and postponement of some matches and series due to the pandemic.
As the ranking stands, after New Zealand’s 2-0 victory over West Indies and before the commencement of the India-Australia series: Australia leads the table with 0.822 PCT, followed by India with 0.750 and New Zealand with 0.625, and England with 0.608 PCT.
Australia has almost qualified for the final, and England would need a miraculous surge in their form to be in the race for the final; which makes it a two-way fight between India and New Zealand for a place in the final at The Lord’s. Kohli’s side will face Australia and England in a 4-match series each. Williamson’s team, after beating West Indies 2-0 go up against Pakistan for another couple of Test matches- which they are expected to win taking their PCT to 0.70.
If the Black Caps does that, India will need to win 5 out of 8 matches to surpass them. Suppose India lose 4-0 in Australia and win 4-0 against England, they end with 66.67 PCT- which is not good enough to overtake New Zealand. If India sweep the home series against England but lose 2-0 in Australia (with 2 draws) they end with 500 points and 69.44 PCT- still not enough.
If India draw in Australia with 1-1(2 draw) and win 3-0 (1 draw) agaisnt England at home they will end with 0.708 PCT, more than what the Kiwis can achieve at best. Hence, atleast a solitary win in Australia will help the Asian giant inch closer to the WTC final.