WTC scenarios 2021-23 – Is an India vs Pakistan final possible in the World Test Championship?

With a total of nine series to go in the current World Test Championship cycle, this is how the teams will be placed in the race for a top-two finish

How will the 1-1 series result affect the qualifying chances for Sri Lanka and Pakistan?

Sri Lanka has moved back up to third on the WTC table with the 1-1 tie, but they still have plenty to do to finish in the top two as their current 53.33 percentage is way behind that of the top two teams currently. Sri Lanka has also played five of their six series in this cycle and their only remaining series consists of two Tests in New Zealand. If they both win, they finish at 61.1%, but if the series ends at 1-1, their percentage drops to 52.78.

Pakistan is currently in fifth place, displacing in an extremely crowded middle table battle: Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan and the West Indies currently have percentages between 50 and 53.33. The advantage for Pakistan is that their two remaining series are at home: three Tests against England and two against New Zealand. If they win all five, their percentage shoots up to 69.05. If they collect 48 points from those two series (four wins and one loss), their percentage will be 61.9%.

What do the current table toppers South Africa have to do to qualify?

South Africa is currently on top with 71.43% points, but they have some tough assignments ahead of them: three tests each in England and Australia, followed by two home tests against the West Indies to round out their six series for this cycle .

Even if they win both tests against the West Indies, they still need more points to get their final percentage to 60. For example, if they lose each of those Overseas series 1-2 and beat the West Indies 2-0, they’ll end up at 60%. If they win one of those series 2-1 and lose the other 1-2, they go to 66.67, leaving them in the mix to qualify.

Is Australia among the favorites to reach the final?

Australia has a whopping nine tests to go in this cycle, the most of any team. Five of them are at home, split into two series – two Tests against the West Indies and three against South Africa. However, their streak will be their biggest challenge – four Tests against India.

If Australia win all five at home and lose all four to India, they will drop to 63.16 and India will skip them if they win all six of their remaining tests. If Australia manage to break a 6-3 win-loss record in those nine games, their percentage will improve to 68.42, which should put them in a strong position to qualify.

What are India’s chances of reaching their second final in a row?

India is currently in fourth place, but they should be nurturing their chances to score a lot of points and move up the rankings in their last two series of this cycle – against Bangladesh (two tests away) and Australia (four tests at home).

If India scores a perfect six out of six, their percentage rises to 68.06, which will be more than Australia’s score even if they win their five home tests. This means that if India and Pakistan win all their remaining matches and if South Africa fails, it could be a subcontinent-wide final at Lord’s in 2023.

What about England, New Zealand and the West Indies?

The best England can achieve is 51.52 if they win their remaining six Tests, while New Zealand can only achieve 48.72. None of these three teams have a realistic shot. The West Indies could theoretically go up to 65.38, but their four remaining tests are in Australia and South Africa.

S Rajesh is ESPNcricinfo statistics editor. @rajeshstats

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