World Test Championship Schedule: Virat Kohli’s Men are all geared up to take on New Zealand in the much-awaited ICC World Test Championship (WTC) final from 18-22 June in Southampton. Team India have already announced their playing XI for the big final while there is still suspense over the availability of New Zealand captain Kane Williamson and wicket-keeper batsman BJ Watling. A lot of things will depend upon the overhead conditions at the Ageas Bowl as it is expected to rain on all five days of the Test match.
After registering comprehensive series win against West Indies, Bangladesh, South Africa, Australia and England, India successfully qualified for the World Test Championship final. Without much of doubt, Virat Kohli-led India were the best team by a far margin in this WTC cycle 2019-21 which is why, they are placed at the top position on the points table. The historic 2-1 Test series win in Australia and then the victory against England at home was the highlight of India’s journey in this World Test Championship table.
On the other hand, the Kane Williamson-led New Zealand team handed convincing defeats to India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and levelled a brilliant Test series in Sri Lanka. The Kiwis just lost a single Test series against Australia (0-3).
The International Cricket Council (ICC) World Test Championship schedule suffered a huge setback due to the Covid-19 pandemic situation all over the world. Many of the Test series had to be cancelled or postponed due to the panic situation caused by coronavirus. The pandemic situation even forced the ICC to make some large scale changes in the points tally system. The newly introduced percentage points system brought huge troubles for India as they were reduced in a big fix due to the changes in the format. However, Virat Kohli & Co. fought hard to register terrific Test series win in Australia and against England at home to qualify for the WTC Final against New Zealand.
The International Cricket Council had to witness massive criticism due to the changes in the World Test Championship schedule 2021. Many of the teams were forced to change their tactics because of the introduction of the new percentage points system in order to decide the two finalists. Before this percentage points system, India topped the table with 360 points while Australia were second with 296 points. However, with the new recommendations introduced, suddenly India slipped to the second spot as their percentage tally came down to 75% and Australia got hold of the top spot with 82.2%.
“Both the Cricket Committee and Chief Executives Committee supported the approach of ranking teams based on completed matches and points earned as this reflects their performance and doesn’t disadvantage teams that have been unable to compete all of their matches through no fault of their own,” former ICC chief executive Manu Sawhney had said in a release.
A lot of experts, former cricketers and even the Indian team head coach Ravi Shastri voiced their opinion on a possible three-match Test series in the future to decide the winners of the World Test Championship final. In the current scenario, both India and New Zealand have performed exceedingly well in the time period of almost two years and a best of three World Test Championship matches will be the perfect way to decide the winners.
“Ideally, in the long run, if they want to persist with the Test Championship, a best-of-three final will be ideal. As a culmination of two-and-a-half years of cricket around the globe. Going forward, best of three will be ideal, but we have got to finish it as quickly as possible because the FTP will start all over again,” said India head coach Ravi Shastri.
The 2019-21 World Test Championship cycle that started with the Ashes series between England and Australia on 1 August, 2019 will be coming to an end with the big India vs New Zealand final that starts from 18-22 June, 2021 in Southampton. However, in order to revive the interest amongst fans in Test cricket, the ICC has decided to continue this World Test Championship event in the future as well. After its latest meeting, the ICC announced that the next World Test Championship final will be held in 2023. India’s first assignment in the new 2021-23 WTC cycle will start with the five-match Test series in England scheduled in August-September later this year.
In order to maintain complete equality, the ICC has decided to award equal points to all the Test matches in the upcoming 2021-23 WTC cycle. However, the apex council also announced that at the end of the cycle, the percentage of points will be calculated on the bases of the total matches played and the resulting points.
“We are going to stick with the percentage-of-points-won method to rank teams. When we looked at the first 12 months of the competition you had teams on a number of points, but it was all relative to how many series they had played,” Geoff Allardice, the ICC’s acting chief executive officer had said.
“So one of the ways to compare teams on an ongoing basis is what proportion of the points that have been available in the matches they played have won. And that percentage served us well in the second half of the Championship,” he added.
New Zealand were the first side to qualify for the final in this current World Test Championship 2021 schedule after they defeated New Zealand at home earlier this year. On the other hand, India played a great brand of cricket consistently over the period of two years to reach this position. The big 3, India, England and Australia have played a big role in forming the World Test Championship 2021 schedule and the same will be the case in future. The players who are limited to featuring in just the longest format of the game for their respective countries, surely have a special excitement for the World Test Championship 2021.
Incidentally, alongside India and New Zealand, Australia were also part of the qualifying race for the World Test Championship final but unfortunately, due to the slow over rate fine in the second Test against India and the cancellation of their Test series in South Africa, they failed to make the final cut. The rest of the teams namely Pakistan, England, West Indies and South Africa also failed to make a definite impact in the World Test Championship list. However, all these teams including the two current finalists, India and New Zealand will be hoping to perform with their best of abilities in the next WTC cycle.
While doing away with their actual timing standards, the IND vs NZ inaugural ICC World Test Championship final will start at 3 PM IST instead of 3:30 PM IST which was a norm in England over the years. However, the excitement of all the cricket fanatics might be halted as rain is expected to play a spoilsport on all five days of the Test match at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton. But the ICC has also kept a reserve day (23 June) in order to accommodate the loss of game time during the original five days. In case of a draw or tie, India and New Zealand will be declared as the join winners of the maiden WTC title.
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