The inaugural edition of the ICC World Test Championship is coming to a close as only one match remains: the final. India and New Zealand lock horns in the final on June 18th at The Rose Bowl in Southampton.
While India finished at the top of the redesigned points table of the WTC, followed by New Zealand – and hence they both proceed into the ultimate clash – but it was England who won the most matches in the cycle.
However, the ICC had earlier changed the standings to be based on the percentage of points (PCT) earned out of the total number of points contested due to the several matches being cancelled owing to the covid-19 pandemic.
ICC World Test Championship: 5 Most Successful Captains In The Tournament
Babar Azam – 100%
It is Pakistan’s new skipper, Babar Azam who has a perfect record as a captain in the ICC WTC cycle. However, the point to be noted is that the sample size for this is just 2 Tests!
Babar was appointed the captain of Pakistan by the end of last year replacing Azhar Ali, under whom they won 2 games out of 8. Babar, however, missed the Test series in New Zealand due to injury. Mohammad Rizwan was made the interim skipper there; Pakistan was whitewashed by the Kiwis.
Babar’s first assignment as a skipper of the Test side came at home when they hosted South Africa. The hosts won both their games ending a season on a positive note. Azam was Pakistan’s highest run-scorer in the ICC WTC with 932 runs in 10 games at an average of 66.57 and notched up 4 hundreds and 5 fifties.
Virat Kohli – 71%
The Indian captain has led the side to the final of the ICC WTC now and has his eyes set on the prize. India started this tournament with a series win in the West Indies, followed by a 3-0 and 2-0 annihilation handed to South Africa and Bangladesh respectively at home. The Indian juggernaut was stopped by the Kiwis who whitewashed India 2-0 at their home.
Things heated up after the pandemic as India was left with just 2 series left in its cycle – Australia away and England at home. While under Kohli India lost the first Test in Adelaide, Ajinkya Rahane led the side to a historic comeback series Down Under.
The Asian giants conjured up another comeback against England after losing the first Test – this time under the captaincy of the Delhi-born. Team India won 10 and lost 4 of the 14 matches under Kohli; Rahane is still undefeated in Test cricket as a skipper.
Kane Williamson – 67%
The other captain in the final, Kane Williamson, led the Black Caps to 6 wins in 9 matches. Tom Latham captained New Zealand in the rest couple of games when Williamson was injured, and the Kiwis won those two as well.
New Zealand had a far from ideal start to the ICC WTC cycle: a 1-1 draw in Sri Lanka; a 3-0 drubbing in Australia. However, they went on a complete winning streak at home defeating India, West Indies, and Pakistan 2-0 each and just tipped over Australia for the second spot – their PCT of 70 was little above Australia’s 69.2, who had lost points due to slow over-rate against India.
Ajinkya Rahane – 67%
Ajinkya Rahane deserves the credit for India reaching the ICC WTC final as much as anyone else – may be ever more than anyone else. After all, he was the one who charged the side to the memorable comeback victory over Australia winning the last two out of three matches after Kohli was unavailable following the first Test.
Not just as a captain, on and off the field as the team battled with injuries and racism from the crowd, Rahane led from the front with a terrific century in Melbourne. He is also India’s highest run-scorer in the WTC cycle with 1095 runs at 43.80.
Tim Paine – 57%
Australia could consider themselves a tad unlucky to have missed out on a berth in the final – the docked points due to their slow over-rate against India hurt them, and they would probably still regret their loss to England – and Ben Stokes – at Leeds in a game they were inches away from winning.
Nonetheless, under Tim Paine, who was instated as the Test captain after Steve Smith’s sandpaper gate fiasco, Australia won 8 of their 14 matches. Following a 2-2 draw in the away Ashes, Australia emphatically defeated Pakistan 2-0 and New Zealand 3-0 at home, before losing the series to India.
They would have still got their shot at the WTC final, had they not cancelled/postponed their tour to South Africa, who are conspicuously struggling in Test cricket currently. Despite the loss to India, Tim Paine is likely to continue as Australia’s skipper till the home Ashes later in the year.