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Stats Analysis

What India, Australia, South Africa need to do to make the World Test Championship final

Pakistan's chances of finishing in the top two of the points table have taken a massive hit

S Rajesh
S Rajesh
12-Dec-2022
The Test mace will be up for grabs again in June 2023  •  ICC via Getty

The Test mace will be up for grabs again in June 2023  •  ICC via Getty

With the 2021-23 World Test Championship cycle moving towards its last leg, here is a look at each team and their qualification prospects for the final.
After these two defeats against England, do Pakistan have any chance of making it to the WTC final?
The two home defeats have badly dented Pakistan's hopes of qualifying for the final. With only three Tests left in this cycle (one against England in Karachi and two home games against New Zealand), the maximum that they can finish on is 54.76%. It is very likely that at least two teams will finish with higher percentages.
For example, Australia, currently table-toppers on 75%, need only 20 points from their remaining seven Tests to ensure that they end up higher than 54.76; they can get those points with a win and two draws. India, who are on 52.08% with six Tests to play, need 44 more points, which they can get with three wins and two draws.
South Africa, currently second on the WTC table at 60%, need 28 more points (two wins and a draw) from their five remaining Tests to stay above Pakistan. Sri Lanka have a tough assignment in New Zealand coming up, but a 1-0 series win will ensure they can finish with a higher percentage than 54.76.
It is highly likely that at least two of these four teams will get the points required to push Pakistan out of contention.
What do India need to do to ensure qualification?
India are currently fourth on the points table, but if they win each of their remaining six Tests - two against Bangladesh and four against Australia - then their percentage will rise to 68.06, which will surely be enough for a top-two finish (Australia's numbers will drop if they lose four to India).
If India finish with a 5-1 win-loss record, their percentage will be a healthy 62.5, which will still ensure qualification as both Australia and South Africa can't go past that number. However, if they lose two, their percentage will drop to 56.94, which will leave them relying on other results.
Have Australia already qualified?
Australia are comfortably on top of the table at 75%, but they still have some work to do before they are certain of qualifying: if they lose each of their remaining seven matches in this cycle, their percentage will drop to 47.37.
That said, Australia do have an opportunity to seal their qualification before they embark on what could be a potentially difficult tour of India: if they win all three home Tests against South Africa, they will finish with a minimum percentage of 63.16 even if they lose all four against India. That will ensure a top-two finish, as only India can finish higher.
What are South Africa's chances of qualifying?
South Africa are currently second on the points table, with two series to play - three Tests in Australia, and two at home against West Indies next year. If they win their home Tests but lose all of their away Tests, they will drop to 53.33. Hence, they need at least one win in Australia: a 1-2 series defeat followed by a 2-0 series win will lift them to 60%, which will keep them in contention.
Are Sri Lanka still in it?
Sri Lanka are currently on 53.33%, with just two away Tests in New Zealand to go in this cycle. If they win both, their score will rise to 61.11; if the series finishes 1-1, it will drop marginally to 52.78. Thus they will probably need two wins to stay in contention.
What about England, West Indies, New Zealand?
Despite England's fantastic run under Ben Stokes, with eight wins in their last nine Tests, England are not in the race. They only have one Test remaining in the current cycle, and even if they win that, they will end up on 46.97%. That's because they had a wretched first half of a campaign: in their first 12 Tests of this cycle, they lost seven, drew four, and won only one.
West Indies can finish with a maximum of 50%, while the New Zealand can go up to 48.72% if they win their last four Tests.

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. @rajeshstats