Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo
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The five-match Pataudi Trophy between England and India starting August 4 will kick off the second cycle of the World Test Championship. That series along with the Ashes, in December, will be the only two series comprising five Tests in the second WTC cycle, spanning August 2021 to June 2023.
Australia's tour of India, in 2022, is the only four-Test series in WTC 2. Beyond that, there are seven three-Test series and 17 series comprising two Tests. The ICC has not yet decided the schedule and the venue for the final.
Like the first WTC cycle, played between 2019 and 2021, the second edition will see each of the nine Test teams playing a total of six series: three home and three away. These bilateral series were finalised by the Full Member Boards in 2018 before the ICC locked them into the 2019-23 Future Tours Programme. None of the series that were cut short of postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic in the first WTC cycle, will be carried forward into the second cycle.
The big-ticket series will once again be split among the Big Three of India, England and Australia. The rest of the six countries will lock horns in series comprising two or a maximum of three Tests each.
England will play the most Tests (21) in WTC 2 followed by India (19), Australia (18) and South Africa (15). The inaugural WTC winners New Zealand will play only 13 matches, similar to that of West Indies, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Bangladesh are the only country among the nine contestants to play two matches in each of their six series in WTC 2.
Points System - 12 for a win, 4 for draw, 6 for a tie
To ensure the discrepancy in matches does not hurt the teams' WTC points tally, the ICC has decided to allot each match the same number of points. Under the proposed system, which is set to be ratified at the next chief executives' committee meeting, each match in WTC 2 will be worth 12 points. A draw will be a third of that, four points. while a tie will earn each team six points. Teams will also be penalised for slow over rates - one point docked for every over they fall behind.
In a chat with ESPNcricinfo recently, ICC's acting chief executive officer Geoff Allardice had expanded on the change in the points system between the two cycles of the WTC.
"Instead of each series being worth the same number of points, 120, irrespective of whether the series is played over two Tests or five Tests, the next cycle will see each match being worth the same number of points - a maximum of 12 per match. Teams will be ranked on the percentage of available points they won from the matches they have played. The aim was to try and simplify the points system and to allow teams to be meaningfully compared on the table at any point, though they may have played differing numbers of matches and series."