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Thursday, March 23, 2023

India getting closer to winning WTC finals ticket; but Australia is still waiting

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India still needs two more victories in the series’ next three Tests to secure a spot in the WTC final.

India’s innings and 132-run victory over Australia in the first Border-Gavaskar Trophy Test in Nagpur on Saturday moved them closer to a second World Test Championship (WTC) final berth, while the Pat Cummins-led side’s quest for a title round position was extended.

Following the victory by the Indian spin-bowling duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, No. 2 India currently has 61.67 percentage points to No. 1 Australia’s 70.83.

However, India still needs two more victories in the series’ next three Tests to ensure a minimum points percentage of 62.50, which would effectively eliminate third-placed Sri Lanka from contention.

If India wins the next three matches in the series, they will have a best possible percentage of 68.06.

While India’s innings victory extended Australia’s wait in the WTC final race, it also ended England and the West Indies’ chances of winning a spot in the Test championship’s 2021-23 cycle.

Australia still has a big enough lead to make the World Cup final, but an 0-4 defeat to India may put third-placed Sri Lanka back in contention, since the Islanders have a two-match Test series against New Zealand starting next week.

In the case that Rohit Sharma’s team wins the series, Australia’s points percentage will fall to 59.64. If Sri Lanka wins both Tests against New Zealand, their points percentage will rise to 61.1, which will be enough to push them past Australia and into the WTC final.

However, Sri Lanka will be better served if Australia goes unbeaten in at least two of the following three Tests, since a 2-0 win for India would only bring India’s points percentage to 60.64.

Sri Lanka may then surpass that by sweeping the two-match Test series against New Zealand and leapfrogging India to secure a WTC summit battle versus Australia.

However, given the Indian spinners’ heroics in the first Test in Nagpur and the playing conditions predicted to favour the hosts, it’s unlikely Rohit’s team would be satisfied with only two victories.

South Africa will host the West Indies in February-March, but even a sweep may not be enough depending on Sri Lanka’s performance in New Zealand and the outcome of the India-Australia series.

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