Australia moved closer to the ICC World Test Championship 2021-23 final spot after securing a 2-0 series win against South Africa in Sydney on Sunday.
With 10 wins, a loss and four draws so far, Australia extended its points tally to 136 with a points percentage (PCT) of 75.55. South Africa, which was in second place before the start of the series, slipped to the fourth position with a PCT of 48.71 after 13 games.
India (58.93) and Sri Lanka (53.93) are in the second and third positions respectively with all four teams remaining in the mathematical contention for the last two spots. While India and Australia square off in their last set off matches during the Border-Gavaskar Trophy next month, South Africa will host West Indies in a two-match series in late February. Sri Lanka will host New Zealand in the last series of the WTC 2021-23 cycle in March.
Here’s a look at the updated WTC final qualification scenarios for Australia, India, South Africa and Sri Lanka:
Had Australia managed to blank South Africa 3-0 with a win in the Sydney Test, it would have put itself in such a commanding position that it would still make the WTC final, irrespective of the result of the series against India away from home.
With South Africa snatching away eight points of Australia’s grasp with the draw, it would need at least a draw to finish with a minimum PCT of 61.40, just ahead of Sri Lanka’s best possible finish.
Australia will qualify for the WTC final with a resounding 80.07 PCT if it thumps India 4-0 to regain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in March.
Best possible finish: Beat India 0-4, finish with 184 points and PCT of 80.07
Worst possible finish: Lose to India 4-0, finish with 136 points and PCT of 59.64.
With South Africa’s huge slip-up in the series against Australia, India has managed to push itself back to the second spot after beating Bangladesh 2-0 in December 2022. However, India (58.93) has to thwart the threat of Sri Lanka which can push itself to a 60-plus PCT when it takes on Australia in their four-match series.
A 3-1 series win against Australia would just be enough for India to finish with a PCT of 61.92 and qualify for the final alongside the Ausses, ahead of Sri Lanka’s best-possible result. A 2-2 series draw for India will help it finish ahead of South Africa’s best-possible result with a 56.4 PCT. It would also be enough for India to qualify should Sri Lanka drop points in its two-match series against New Zealand.
Best possible finish: Beat Australia 4-0, finish with 147 points and PCT of 67.43.
Worst possible finish: Lose to Australia 0-4, finish with 99 points and PCT of 45.4.
The debacle in the series against Australia has pushed the Proteas’ fate out of their own hands. A 2-0 win over West Indies will help it finish a PCT of 55.55. However, it would not be enough for a final qualification if India manages to win at least two of its remaining four matches.
Best possible finish: Beat West Indies 2-0, finish with 100 points and PCT of 55.55.
Worst possible finish: Lose to West Indies 0-2, finish with 76 points and PCT of 42.2.
A 2-0 win over New Zealand in March will help Sri Lanka finish with a PCT of 61.11. It would, however, not be sufficient for qualification if India manages a series scoreline of 3-1, 3-0 or 4-0 against Australia. A 2-2 finish for India against Australia could put Sri Lanka through to the final, if it manages to blank the Kiwis at home.
Best possible finish: Beat New Zealand 2-0, finish with 88 points and PCT of 61.11.
Worst possible finish: Lose to New Zealand 0-2, finish with 64 points and PCT of 44.44.
CAN ENGLAND AND WEST INDIES STILL QUALIFY FOR THE WTC FINAL?
While they are practically out of the WTC final race, England (46.97) and West Indies (40.91) still have their mathematical chances open.
England and West Indies WTC final qualification chances
If things go horribly wrong for India (worst-possible 0-4 finish v Australia), it would finish with a PCT of 45.4 below England’s final PCT tally of 46.97. Sri Lanka too can finish at a lowly 44.44 PCT, if New Zealand manages a series whitewash in the island nation.
If such an improbable scenario arises, England can only be toppled by the winner of the South Africa-West Indies series. If South Africa beats West Indies 2-0, it will qualify for the WTC final with a PCT of 55.55. South Africa can also qualify with just one win in the series.
If West Indies beats the Proteas 0-2, it could finish at a PCT of 50 and qualify for the final.
Meanwhile, Pakistan, New Zealand and Bangladesh are already out of the WTC final race.
POINTS TABLE as of January 8, 2023.