Stats Analysis

WTC final: The road ahead for Australia, India, South Africa and Sri Lanka

South Africa's hopes of reaching the WTC final were dented by their series defeat in Australia

Abhimanyu Bose
08-Jan-2023
Australia need to avoid a 4-0 sweep in India to qualify for the WTC final  •  Getty Images

Australia need to avoid a 4-0 sweep in India to qualify for the WTC final  •  Getty Images

With just three series left in the 2021-23 cycle of the World Test Championship, we look at the main contenders for the final and what they need to do to get there.

Have Australia booked their spot in the final?

With the 2-0 home series win over South Africa, Australia have 75.56% points and have all but secured their place in the final. The only scenario in which they will miss out is if they lose all their four Tests in India and Sri Lanka win both their matches in New Zealand.
A 4-0 defeat in India will see Australia's percentage drop to 59.65 and a series sweep in New Zealand will take Sri Lanka up to 61.11. If Sri Lanka win 1-0 in New Zealand, their percentage will only go up to 55.56, which will below Australia's even if they lose 4-0 in India.
The minimum Australia need to do to not depend on other teams is to draw one Test in India, provided they don't concede any penalty points. If they earn a draw and lose 3-0 in India, and don't concede any penalty points, they will finish on 61.40%, marginally ahead of the maximum that Sri Lanka can achieve. However, a single penalty point will push them down to 60.96%.

What do India need to reach the WTC final?

If India win the home series against Australia 3-1 or better, they will qualify for the final regardless of the results in other series. Currently second on the table with 58.93% after their 2-0 series win in Bangladesh, they will go to 68.06% if they win 4-0 against Australia, 62.5% with 3-1, and 56.94% if the series ends 2-2.
So, if the series ends 2-2 and Sri Lanka win 2-0 in New Zealand, India will finish outside the top two.
India could also slip behind South Africa if they collect fewer than 21 points against Australia and South Africa win 2-0 at home against West Indies. Thus, India will stay ahead of South Africa even with a 1-0 series win or a 2-2 draw (24 points), but not with a 1-1 draw (20 points).

So South Africa still have a chance?

The 2-0 defeat in Australia has hurt South Africa's chances, but the draw in a rain-affected match in Sydney was useful. They are currently fourth with 48.72%, and if they win both home Tests against West Indies, they can go up to 55.56%.
For South Africa to go through to the final, they will need to win both their matches, Sri Lanka to only get one win in New Zealand or worse, and for India to get fewer than 21 points.

Can Sri Lanka make the final?

Yes, third-placed Sri Lanka do have a chance. Assuming they sweep New Zealand away from home, they will get to 61.11%. In that case, they would need India to either win 4-0 against Australia or for the series to end in a draw, or for Australia to win the series so they can finish above India.
If Sri Lanka draw the series 1-1, they will finish on 52.78%. For them to qualify with that percentage, they will need India to get no more than 12 points from the series against Australia (3-1 or 1-0 series defeat), and for South Africa to get no more than 16 (1-0 series win).

What about the rest?

England, West Indies, Pakistan, New Zealand and Bangladesh are the remaining teams and they are too far behind to make it. New Zealand and West Indies are the only two teams among the lot to have fixtures left and even maximum points for them from these matches won't be enough for the former.
West Indies, with a 2-0 win in South Africa that would take their percentage to 50, can reach the final if Sri Lanka get fewer than eight points against New Zealand and India fewer than 10.
England, with 46.97%, are the only side with an outside chance of sneaking into the final, but only in the unlikely event of India and Sri Lanka losing all their remaining games, and South Africa getting no more than two draws.