February 25, 2021

Explained: Who will face New Zealand in the WTC title clash?

Australia has postponed a tour of South Africa due to health concerns related to Kovit New Zealand qualification The final of the ICC World Test Championship (WTC) is set to take place at Lord’s in June. India need 70 points from four Tests against England to be the Kiwis’ opponents in the final. The top two teams on the WTC schedule will play with the title referee, whose current cycle ends in March.

Why New Zealand?

The WTC finalists will be judged on the percentage of points (PCD) obtained instead of the absolute points – in view of the coveted-forced change, postponed / canceled series by the International Cricket Council. PCD is the percentage of points won by the total number of points scored. On that basis, New Zealand ranks second with 70% PCD. Following Australia’s 2-1 home series loss to India, their PCD dropped to 69.2%. With the South Africa series postponed for now, the Aussies could not have surpassed their Trans-Tasman rivals. So the Kiwis will play their other two nearest rivals India and England in the bilateral series, of which only one can qualify.

Where does India stand?

According to the ICC position, India is sitting at the table with absolute points and PCD – 430 and 71.7% respectively. 120 points are allocated for each series under the WTC, Australia’s PCD against Australia. In a four-Test series, 30 points are allotted for a win, while a draw is 10 points. Therefore, a 2-1 series win against England, which is the minimum requirement, would qualify India for the WTC final.

What about the UK?

Joe Root’s team has a chance to play in the WTC final, however the equation for them is very difficult. England’s PCD is 68.7% at the moment, and they need 87 points from the series against India in the Lord’s Final. With three wins in the upcoming series, this is the minimum requirement for them to cross over to Australia, while India’s P.C.T. A 3-1 or 3-0 series win over India would see England.

Is there still a chance for Australia?

In theory, they are. If the India-England series ends in a stalemate – 0-0, 1-1 or 2-2, England will be rooted in fourth place, ahead of India’s PCD Australia. If England win the series 1-0 or 2-1, or India win 1-0, the WTC will also see the Aussies in the final. In such a situation, both India and England will fail to collect the required points and they will be knocked out.

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So, has the postponement made Australia’s chances worse?

To a large extent, yes. Tim Payne & Co would have played with 120 points in the three-Test series in South Africa, with 40 points for Test victory. The slow high rate in the Boxing Day Test against India will push Australia back to the four points they lost. With those four points, Australia’s PCD would have been 70 per cent, the same as New Zealand’s. The one-wicket (RPW) ratio per Australia’s best runs would, in that case, have seen them. According to ESPNCricinfo, Australia’s RPW is 1.28 to 1.39 in New Zealand.