PARTAB RAMCHAND | 8 DECEMBER, 2019
WTC: Early Days Yet But Certain Contours Have Formed
World Test Championship
These are early days yet as far as the World Test Championship (WTC) is concerned – just four months into a two-year cycle before the winner is determined – and so no clear predictions can be made. This despite India getting away to a runaway lead in the points table with their tally of 360 points being more than the total points notched up by the other eight teams in the fray. However a few points may still be made without fear of being hopelessly off the mark by the time the final stages are reached.
It’s not just the impressive points tally and their played seven won seven record that makes India early favourites to make the final at Lord’s in 2021. They are a formidable side symbolized by their No 1 ranking for some time now in the ICC points table. One just cannot see them have too many bad away games after taking for granted that they are unbeatable at home. The batting and bowling are working in unison, the team is going through an enormously successful run and one just cannot see Virat Kohli and his men falter big time.
On the form shown so far Australia would appear to be their nearest rivals. They are second in the table some distance behind but on the evidence of the Ashes and their romp over Pakistan it is clear that a nucleus of a fine Aussie side is forming and they are one team that can match India in all departments of the game. The fifth place they occupy in the ICC rankings can best be ignored and one can only see them get better.
One cannot rule out the chances of New Zealand and England both on their standing and the team personnel. It is unfortunate that their just concluded series was not part of the WTC as the itinerary was made before plans for the WTC were drawn up. New Zealand would obviously have benefited in the points tally but it is clear that they will be up there challenging strongly for a place in the final. They are well deserving of their second place in the ICC rankings and they too on team personnel will be hard to beat particularly at home. One can also expect England to be one of the main challengers for the championship their loss to New Zealand notwithstanding. Their showing in the Ashes showed that they are a team to be taken seriously.
Sri Lanka are currently in fourth spot in the WTC points table with 60 points from one win and one loss but one cannot see them as serious contenders for a place in the final. As for the four other teams in the fray – West Indies, Pakistan, South Africa and Bangladesh – none of them have opened their account and even if these are early days it can be said that it will be a major surprise if one of them is able to make it to the title clash at Lord’s. South Africa may be perched at No 3 in the ICC rankings but they are a team in transition and one cannot see much change in their fortunes over the next couple of years. South African cricket is also facing major problems off the field and this unhealthy atmosphere is bound to engulf the team too.
Pakistan is a mercurial side but their thrashing at the hands of Australia exposed several chinks in their armour and they are not expected to make much progress in the points tally. And to be candid West Indies and Bangladesh should be among the also-rans when the points tally is completed.