ICC World Test Championship
December 24 20
New Zealand have a chance to improve their prospects in the ICC World Test Championship when they face Pakistan in a two-game home series that begins on Boxing Day in Tauranga.
New Zealand have won by identical 2-0 margins against both the West Indies and India in the previous two series and are third in terms of percentage points won, which determines final places rather than total points won, following of a change of system points due to the disruption of Covid-19.
Australia and India lead the ranking on this basis. New Zealand, currently at 0.625 percentage points, could rise to 0.700 if they manage to win another 2-0 win and move up to second place depending on their results in the other Down Under series. However, a 1-1 draw would reduce them to 0,600 points and a 2-0 defeat to 0,500 points.
Australia, which overtook India in first place after the rule change from maximum points to percentage points, are currently at 0.835 a game in their four home games against India. India are at 0.705 in the fifth series and are likely to lose more points after a forgettable defeat in the opening match in Australia.
The top two teams at the end of the championship in percentage points will compete for the final. Each league series is worth 120 points, evenly distributed over the number of games in a series, ranging from 60 for each game of a two-test series to 24 for each game of a five-test series.
More information on the WTC can be found here.
On the other hand, Pakistan will struggle to improve its current 0.395 percentage points with the potential to rise to 0.529 in the fifth series. Their tires so far include only one match in a two-leg home test series against Bangladesh, which was supposed to be played on two legs but was not completed.
In another series of two tests that will take place simultaneously, the hosts of South Africa will fight for prestige by challenging Sri Lanka in an attempt to improve their 0.100 percentage points after two series that saw them lose 3-1 to England and 3-0 in India.
Sri Lanka are at 0.333 percentage points after two series – they lost 1-0 to Pakistan and drew 1-1 with New Zealand – but could rise to 0.555 with a 2-0 win or drop to 0.222 with a defeat with the same margin.
Meanwhile, a series win over Pakistan will help New Zealand overtake Australia to take the top spot in the MRF Tires ICC Test Team standings, while even a drawn series will see them slide to third place behind India. The team rankings are managed independently and do not affect the ICC World Testing Championship. The predictor function is available here.
The two series promise plenty of action in the MRF Tires ICC Men’s Test Team rankings, with New Zealand captain Kane Williamson close behind runner-up Virat Kohli, who will not play the remaining three games against Australia.
Pakistan captain Babar Azam, in fifth place, misses the first game due to injury but hopes to be ready for the second. Sri Lankan captain Dimuth Karunaratne (15th) and South Africa batsman-wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock (13th) will also be watched from the standings point of view.
Among the bowlers, the New Zealand duo of Neil Wagner and Tim Southee (third and fourth classified), the Pakistani bowler Mohammad Abbas (12th), Sri Lanka Suranga Lakmal (23rd) and the South African spinner Keshav Maharaj ( 28 °) hoped to build on the rating points and go up.