Mighty Indians Blanked By The Kiwis

New Zealand may now be contenders for the World Test Championship

New Zealand may now be contenders for the World Test Championship

New Zealand’s Colin de Grandhomme celebrates after dismissing India’s Virat Kohli during the second Test between New Zealand and India at Hagley Oval in Christchurch on 01 March 2020.

New Zealand’s cricketers bettered their much-vaunted rugby peers, the All-Blacks’ recent performances, by subduing India 2-0 to record their sixth consecutive series win at home. It was the first series whitewash suffered in eight years by the current ICC World Test Championship leaders and number one ranked Test team, India and the first under Virat Kohli. So much so, that although they had steam-rolled opponents at home and in the West Indies last year, this was India’s third overseas series defeat in four tours since 2018.

By virtue of this series win, New Zealand jumped to the third spot on the World Test Championship table, taking their points tally to 180. Despite the defeat, India remain at the top of the points table with 360 points with seven wins and two losses, 64 points ahead of second-placed Australia. New Zealand had started the series with just 60 points and were in sixth place, but the series win had enabled them to leapfrog Sri Lanka, Pakistan and England.

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A Two Horse Race?

India and Australia are almost sure to make the 2021 World Test Championship final

India and Australia - World Test Championship favourites

Indian cricketers celebrate the dismissal of Australia’s Aaron Finch during day three of the third Test between Australia and India in Melbourne on 28 December 2018. (© AFP)

In January, Australia sealed-off a perfect home summer with an emphatic win over New Zealand in the third Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Before their 3-0 victory over the visiting Kiwis, Australia also whitewashed Pakistan (2-0). These two series victories have enabled them to narrow the gap with India in the ICC World Test Championship points table. At the halfway stage – three series apiece – India still lead the pack on 360 points, closely followed by Australia with 296.

Marnus Labuschagne led the Australian dominance with 896 runs in the five Tests. Every match against New Zealand and Pakistan finished inside four days. The victory margins suggested that they are almost certain to face India in the 2021 Test Championship final. Australia’s home series against India starting later this year may determine who finishes at the top of the table.

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India Steam Ahead

The front runners to make the 2021 World Test Championship final

India - The front runners to make the 2021 World Test Championship final

India clean sweep South Africa series 3-0 with massive win in the third Test in Ranchi on 22 October 2019. (© PTI Photo)

Just three months into the World Test Championship, India now have more points than all other teams combined in the tournament.

After beating the West Indies 2-0 away, India inflicted the worst series defeat for South Africa since their return to international cricket in 1992. The 3-0 drubbing was India’s 11th consecutive series win at home. It wasn’t on spinning “doctored” tracks, but a performance that displayed their capacity to win overseas.

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Will the Real Test Champs Win?

A closer look at how the points system can affect the contenders

ICC World Test Championship Series

The much-awaited World Cup for Test cricket is underway. Contested by the top nine teams in ICC rankings, it aims at adding relevance and context to all bilateral Test series. Sounds good, but dig deep, you wouldn’t stumble upon a treasure trove as such.

Each team will play only six bilateral series against mutually decided opponents, instead of playing eight. For example, Sri Lanka wouldn’t play two stronger sides, India and Australia; New Zealand would skip England and South Africa. Would it discount a team’s overall superiority?

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Can Sri Lanka Add Another Feather?

Sri Lanka’s chances in the World Test Championship

Sri Lanka in World Test Cricket Championship

Sri Lanka’s Kusal Perera celebrates after leading the team to a famous victory over South Africa in a nail-biting conclusion to the first Test on 16 February 2019. (© Anesh Debiky/AFP/Getty Images)

The newest entrant to Test cricket Ireland had a magical first day in their maiden Test against the inventors of the game, at the Home of Cricket recently. Calling all the shots at the end of the second day, they needed just 182 for what might have been the greatest upset in the history of Test cricket. It was not to be, as on the third morning, they succumbed to 38 and lost by 143 runs! Despite the predictability of the outcome, the Irish did frightened England. Though Ireland will not feature in the inaugural World Test Championship that commenced last month, can their performance inspire Sri Lanka to another fairy-tale finish?

Sri Lanka boasts a credible Test record leading to the World Test Championship, surprisingly rosier than their white-ball cricket. Having played twenty-two Tests across nine series’ in two years; seven away and two at home, they broke even, winning and losing eight Tests each. Strikingly, six of the wins were away from home.

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The Ultimate Test

Preview of the inaugural World Test Championship

World Test Cricket Championship Countries

Cricket’s T20 razzmatazz is a great spectacle, enjoyed by both young and old. For many, however, its five-day version that test the players more than in any other ball game still remains the pinnacle of the sport.

Currently, the champions of Test cricket are decided by the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Test Team Rankings. These rankings are based on the results of games played as part of regular Test cricket scheduling with no consideration of home or away status. Unlike many other sports, home advantage has remained a distinct and enduring feature of cricket throughout its existence. That is precisely why teams like the 1970s/80s West Indies and Australia of the 1990s/2000s were recognised as all-time bests for their ability to win away from home.

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