India victory strengthens qualification prospects for The Ultimate Test
Victory sees India edge closer to ICC World Test Championship Final qualification
Gap widens between the top two and the other teams in pursuit of a place at the Ultimate Test
Khel Today Bureau
New Delhi: As the race to the ICC World Test Championship Final at The Oval gathers pace, India claimed a significant innings victory over Australia on Saturday to strengthen their claim for a spot in the Ultimate Test on 7 June.
As two years of intense competition approaches its conclusion in the weeks to come, the longest format continues to create unrivalled drama, and the opening Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy leaves the door open for a dramatic climax.
With the top two teams in the ICC World Test Championship standings securing a place in June’s Final, the victory in Nagpur sees Rohit Sharma’s men widen the gap between themselves and the chasing nations with a percentage of 61.67. Consequently, Australia’s defeat sees their tally drop to 70.83%, however they remain top of the table.
As a result of India’s win, the number of teams that can mathematically qualify for the World Test Championship Final now becomes four. England and the West Indies drop out of contention, no longer able to reach the percentage required to break into the top two.
Among the two other remaining contenders besides Australia and India, Sri Lanka are the next placed team in the standings on 53.33%, and they have their sights firmly set on their series in New Zealand next month, where they will need to win both encounters to stand a chance of featuring in June’s contest.
South Africa sit in fourth, yet their 48.72% sees them needing not only a whitewash victory over the visiting West Indies, but favourable results elsewhere to give them any hope of taking to the field on 7 June.
Attention now turns to the next fixture in the World Test Championship calendar, the second India-Australia Test where there is still everything to play for. Another victory for India would see them all but ensure their qualification, while Australia only need to avoid defeat to confirm their place in the Ultimate Test at The Oval on 7 June.
With more tension and excitement expected in the coming weeks, the ICC World Test Championship Final will undoubtedly present us with another absorbing encounter, where the victors will raise the illustrious ICC World Test Championship Mace, and write themselves into the annals of this historical format of the game.
Remaining ICC World Test Championship Fixtures
India v Australia (2nd Test) – Delhi, India, 17-21 February
South Africa v West Indies (1st Test) – Centurion, South Africa, 28 February-4 March
India v Australia (3rd Test) – Dharamsala, India, 1-5 March
South Africa v West Indies (2nd Test) – Johannesburg, South Africa, 8-12 March
New Zealand v Sri Lanka (1st Test) – Christchurch, New Zealand, 9-13 March
India v Australia (4th Test) – Ahmedabad, India, 9-13 March
New Zealand v Sri Lanka (2nd Test) – Wellington, New Zealand, 17-21 March.