Wins against Bangladesh, Australia needed for India to reach World Test Championship final (explainer)

As India return to red-ball action when they take on Bangladesh in a two-Test series that begins at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chattogram on Wednesday, there are quite good chances of them reaching their second successive World Test Championship final.

India, the runners-up in the inaugural edition of the WTC, are currently in fourth place on the WTC standings with 52.08% points, behind table-toppers Australia (75%), South Africa (60%) and Sri Lanka (53.33%).

But against Bangladesh, they will be without injured skipper Rohit Sharma (left thumb) at least for the first Test. They are also without pacers Jasprit Bumrah (back injury), Mohammad Shami (shoulder injury) and left-arm spin all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja (right knee injury).

With the race for the WTC finale spots heating up, India need to win all their remaining Tests — two in Bangladesh and four against Australia at home in February-March next year — to be in contention for the final to be held at The Oval in June 2023 with their win percentage possibly becoming 68.06%.

But if India lose two out of their remaining six Tests in the last leg of WTC, then they will have to be dependent on the results of other teams to enter the final. Also, if India manage to win all four Tests against Australia next year, then the visitors’ numbers will also reduce in the WTC table.

If Australia manage to win all three home Tests against South Africa, they will finish with a minimum percentage of 63.16 even if they go on to lose all four Tests against India, they will have their qualification for the WTC final sealed.

India will also have to hope that South Africa lose at least three of their five remaining Tests. The Proteas have a three-match Test series in Australia starting this week and then have a two-match Test series at home against the West Indies next year.

If they win a minimum of three games — one against Australia and two at home against the West Indies — then their minimum percentage points will be around 60, which can put India’s chances of making it to the WTC final in doubt.

Sri Lanka also need two wins in their last WTC series against New Zealand next year to stay in contention for the final. A drawn series will give a hammer blow to that prospect.

England and Bangladesh are already out of contention while Pakistan’s hopes took a huge hit after the series loss at home to Ben Stokes-led side. Current WTC holders New Zealand and West Indies can finish at a maximum of 50% and 48% respectively — which may not be sufficient for a spot in the WTC final.

For India, the equation is simple — win all remaining six matches for the best chance of entering the WTC final. Five wins and a draw will be good too, but a loss or two defeats will leave their hopes in jeopardy.

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