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South Africa's Test series loss throws up new opportunities in WTC cycle; will India benefit?

Dubai, Sep 13 (IANS) Dean Elgar’s South Africa losing the three-Test series against England recently could well have enhanced India’s chances of making their second successive World Test Championship final next year, given that the defeat has caused a lot of movement on the WTC charts.

With Rohit Sharma’s side set to travel to Bangladesh for two Tests later this year, a favourable result during that series will leave the upcoming contest for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy at home early next year keenly contested. India — currently placed fourth on the WTC table — will go hard at Pat Cummin’s Australia to seal the series and stake claim for a WTC final berth.

India have an excellent recent record at home against Australia and will be confident of doing enough to win that series and qualify for a second consecutive World Test Championship final, after the inaugural final of the tournament in England where they lost to Kane Williamson’s New Zealand last year.

Also, there is still some chance India could meet arch-rival Pakistan in the WTC final should both teams have everything going their way over the coming months, according to ICC.

Australia currently lead the standings and are well placed to reach the 2023 decider, but there are still a total of six teams in contention to reach the final. With 70 per cent of possible points and the two-Test series at home to West Indies, followed by another backyard three-Test series against South Africa and a four-match away tour to India, Australia are currently in prime position to secure one of the two final spots.

But the outcome of the series against India could likely decide their fate. Facing Rohit Sharma’s side away from home for four Tests in a place they haven’t won at since 2004, the Australians will likely need to avoid defeat to ensure they reach the WTC decider.

Second placed South Africa with 60 per cent of possible points and series against Australia (away, three Tests) and West Indies (home, two Tests) coming up, have their task cut out after the 2-1 loss to England. While they lost the top spot to Australia, the Proteas still remain in a strong position to reach next year’s final.

Third placed Sri Lanka — 53.33 per cent of possible points — too have a chance and an away two-Test series will decide their fate in the current WTC cycle. The fact that they have just one series makes their task uphill, though maximum points in New Zealand would take them to 61.1 per cent, meaning they’ll need help from unfancied sides further down the table just to finish in the top two.

While Pakistan, with 51.85 per cent of possible points, are languishing in fifth place on the current standings behind India, they do have five Tests on home soil to make up for lost ground. If they can win all those five matches — England (home, three Tests), New Zealand (home, two Tests) — they will rise to 69.05 percentage points, which may still prove enough to qualify for the WTC final.

However, Babar Azam’s side cannot afford too many slip-ups, with each Test they don’t win to be detrimental to their chances of finishing inside the top two places on the standings.

Sixth-placed West Indies, with 50 per cent of possible points, can finish on 65.38 percentage points, though would have to win all four matches — Australia (away, two Tests), South Africa (away, two Tests) — in tough away conditions to seal an unlikely place in the WTC23 final.

Seventh-placed England, with 38.6 per cent of possible points, are the in-form side, but sadly, it’s a case of too little too late for Ben Stokes’ side. They also have an away three-Test series against Pakistan in harsh sub-continent conditions. The unsuccessful Ashes series at the start of this year virtually sealed their fate.

–IANS

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CELEBRITY GALLERY

Ananya Panday

Asim Riaz

Avika Gor

Pooja Hegde

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