World Test Championship: New Zealand Make it Tougher for India
New Zealand have become the top-ranked Test team for the first time in history. They achieved the feat after beating West Indies 2-0 in a home series on Monday. In the second match of the series in Wellington, New Zealand won by an innings and 12 runs after imposing the follow-on.
Back to Back Innings Wins
In the previous match in Hamilton in the first week of December, New Zealand won the toss and elected to bat first. They posted an imposing 519 for seven declared on the back of skipper Kane Williamson’s 251. In reply, West Indies were bowled out for 138. Following on, they managed to score only 247 runs in the second innings, enabling New Zealand to win by an innings and 134 runs.
In Wellington on 11 December, New Zealand won the toss and scored 460 in their first knock. Batting at number five, Henry Nicholls scored 174 to rescue New Zealand from a precarious position of 203/5. West Indies were bowled out 131 before New Zealand imposed the follow-on. Although West Indies did much better in the second innings, they could not score more than 317, allowing New Zealand to register back-to-back innings victories.
NZ in 3rd Place on Points Table
After their series win against the West Indies, New Zealand have garnered 300 points in the Test championship. They are 60 points behind India who have 360, while Australia have 296. A change in the rules relating to points tabulation in the World Test Championship was made by the ICC at its last quarterly meeting in November. The COVID-19 pandemic was said to have compelled the change which was recommended by a cricket committee of the ICC led by India’s Anil Kumble. In keeping with the committee’s recommendation, the relative rankings of the teams in the Test championship would be based on the percentage of points earned.
As a result of the new method of tabulating points, Australia have risen to the top of the table, though they have fewer points than India who were the table leaders before the new method became operational. Australia have a higher percentage of points, 82.2%, than India who have 75%. Currently, New Zealand are third-placed with 62.5%.
India Need five Wins in Eight Matches
India are currently on tour in Australia to play in a four-match Test series scheduled to begin in Adelaide on 17 December. In February and March 2021, India will play a home series of four Test matches against England. New Zealand have an upcoming series of two Test matches at home against Pakistan. New Zealand are expected to win both their matches against Pakistan. Were they to beat Pakistan 2-0, they would finish with 460 points or 71.88% of possible points.
That would leave India needing to win at least five of the remaining eight matches in the Test championship. Australia are expected to beat India while India are expected to beat England. India’s best hope of getting ahead of New Zealand on the Test championship table would be to register a 4-0 clean sweep against England and win at least one match against Australia. With Virat Kohli available only for the first Test, India’s best chance would be in Adelaide against Australia without Warner in the opening slot.
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