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WTC scenarios: Is an India vs Pakistan final possible?

Also, what do current table-toppers South Africa need to do to qualify?

S Rajesh
S Rajesh
Pakistan are stuck in an extremely crowded mid-table tussle in the WTC table  •  AFP/Getty Images

Pakistan are stuck in an extremely crowded mid-table tussle in the WTC table  •  AFP/Getty Images

With a total of nine series still left in the current World Test Championship cycle, here is how the teams are placed in the race for a top-two finish
How does the 1-1 series result impact the qualification chances for Sri Lanka and Pakistan?
Sri Lanka have moved back up to third place on the WTC table with the 1-1 drawn series, but they still have plenty to do to finish among the top two, given that their current percentage of 53.33 is well behind those of the top two teams currently. Sri Lanka have also already played five of their six series in this cycle, and their only remaining series consists of two Tests in New Zealand. If they win both, they will finish on 61.1%, but if the series finishes 1-1, their percentage will drop to 52.78.
Pakistan are currently in fifth place, jostling in an extremely crowded mid-table tussle: Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan and West Indies currently have percentages between 50 and 53.33. The advantage for Pakistan is that their two remaining series are at home: three Tests against England and two against New Zealand. If they win all five, their percentage will shoot up to 69.05. If they collect 48 points from those two series (four wins and a loss), their percentage will be 61.9%.
What do current table-toppers South Africa need to do to qualify?
South Africa are currently sitting on top with 71.43% points, but they have some tough assignments coming up: three Tests each in England and Australia, which will be followed by two home Tests against West Indies to round off their six series for this cycle.
Even if they win both Tests against West Indies, they will still need more points to get their final percentage up to 60. If, for instance, they lose each of those overseas series 1-2 and beat West Indies 2-0, they will finish on 60%. If they win one of those series 2-1 and lose the other 1-2, they will go up to 66.67, which will keep them in the mix to qualify.
Are Australia among the favourites to make it to the final?
Australia have as many as nine Tests to go in this cycle, the most among all teams. Five of those are at home, across two series - two Tests against West Indies and three against South Africa. However, their away series will be their biggest challenge - four Tests against India.
If Australia win all five at home and lose all four to India, they will drop to 63.16 and India will leapfrog them if they win all six of their remaining Tests. If Australia manage a 6-3 win-loss record in those nine matches, their percentage will improve to 68.42, which should put them in a strong position to qualify.
What are India's chances of making their second final in a row?
India are currently in fourth place, but they should fancy their chances of getting plenty of points and moving up the table in their last two series of this cycle - against Bangladesh (two Tests away) and Australia (four Tests at home).
If India score a perfect six on six, their percentage will jump up to 68.06, which will be more than Australia's score even if they win their five home Tests. This means that if India and Pakistan win all their remaining games and if South Africa slip up, it could be an all-subcontinent final at Lord's in 2023.
What about England, New Zealand and West Indies?
The best that England can manage is 51.52 if they win their remaining six Tests, while New Zealand can only go up to 48.72. None of these three teams have a realistic shot. West Indies can theoretically go up to 65.38, but their four remaining Tests are in Australia and South Africa.

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. @rajeshstats