In the past, ICC had made a couple of attempts to conduct the World Test Championship, one in 2013 and the other in 2017 but they were cancelled. The recent edition featured nine out of the twelve Test playing nations. Each of the side was supposed to compete against six of the other eight teams. The point system of World Test Championship allowed each team to collect a maximum of 120 points from each series and the two teams with highest points made it to the Final. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the matches had been called off, prompting ICC to choose the finalists based on the percentage of points earned. India and New Zealand finally made a cut into the Final of ICC World Test Championship.
India’s Journey to the World Test Championship Final:
During the league stage, India played 17 Test Matches, of which they registered victory in 12, lost 4 and drew 1 match. Their point percentage was the highest among all other Test playing nations at 72.2%. At the outset f their journey, you would have got good cricket betting odds on them going all the way, at top cricket site for cricket live odds ThisWin cricket.
In 2019, India beat West Indies by 2-0, South Africa by 3-0 and Bangladesh by 2-0. However, in early 2020, they lost to New Zealand by 2-0.
India bounced back in the Border-GavaskarTrophy 2020-2021 against Australia and clinched the series by 2-1. India furthered their chances for a berth in the Final of the World Test Championship by beating England 3-1 at their home ground.
New Zealand’s Journey to the World Test Championship Final:
During the league stage, New Zealand played 11 Test Matches, of which they won 7 and lost 4. Their point percentage was the second highest among all other Test playing nations at 70%.
In 2019, New Zealand managed to draw level the away series against Sri Lanka by winning the last Test. Later that year, New Zealand lost to Australia in an away series by 3-0.
After the humiliating defeat against Australia, New Zealand did not look back and beat India by 2-0 in a home series in early 2020, followed by a thumping victory over West Indies by 2-0. They also managed to beat Pakistan by 2-0 in the 2020-2021 Pakistan’s tour of New Zealand. New Zealand simply looked unbeaten leading to the World Championship Final. Australia were looking good to contest for a berth in the World Championship Final but their chances were diminished with the cancellation of their away series against South Africa due to COVID-19 pandemic. Hence, New Zealand were guaranteed their place in the Final against India.
ICC World Test Championship Final:
The ICC World Test Championship Final was played between India and New Zealand at Rose Bowl, Southampton, starting from 18 June. A reserve day was kept in order to deduce a result out of the Test Match.
There was no play on the first day of the Test Match. On the second day, India batted first and the openers Rohit Sharma along with Shubman Gill batted with a lot of conviction. They stitched a partnership of 62 runs for the first wicket. When things were going smooth for India, Kyle Jamieson struck to get rid of Rohit Sharma. This is when New Zealand could sniff an opening and the other bowlers fully capitalized on the situation to peg India back.
Captain Virat Kohli and Vice Captain Ajinkya Rahane both got the starts but failed to convert them into a bigger knock. India got bowled out for 217. Kyle Jamieson picked up 5 wickets in the first innings.
New Zealand were bowled out for 249 in their first innings with a lead of 32 runs. The match was evenly poised on the 5th day and the onus was on the Indian batters to gain a healthy lead and set a tough target for New Zealand. They failed however, courtesy a brilliant bowling display by Boult and company. India were bowled out for 170 on the 6th day, with New Zealand needing 139 runs to win the World Test Championship Final. After the openers were dismissed cheaply,
Captain Kane Williamson and the veteran Ross Taylor took the responsibility to take their team over the line and watching the cricket live, it was a thrilling contest. Williamson scored an unbeaten 52 and Taylor made 47 to ensure a smooth victory for the Kiwis. New Zealand thus won their first major ICC Title since their win in Kenya in 2000-2001.
Future of the World Test Championship:
The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent cancellation of tours had an acute impact on the World Test Championship rankings and team positions. The ICC attracted a lot of criticism for its points system and they have decided to simplify it for the 2021-2023 cycle of the World Test Championship beginning in August.
According to the new points system, the second ICC World Test Championship will be contested for the same number of points- 12 for a win, four for a draw and six for a tie, shifting away from the previous system where same number of points were allocated to each series, divided across the number of matches played.
According to the ICC Acting Chief Executive Geoff Allardice, “We received feedback that the previous points system needed to be simplified. The Cricket Committee took this into consideration when proposing a new, standardized points system for each match. It maintained the principle of ensuring that all matches in a WTC series count towards a team’s standing, while accommodating series varying in length between two Tests and five Tests.
“During the pandemic we had to change to ranking teams on the points table using the percentage of available points won by each team, since all series could not be completed. This helped us determine the finalists and we were able to complete the championship within the scheduled time frame. This method also allowed us to compare the relative performance of teams at any time, regardless of how many matches they had played.”
With the new points system in place, World Test Championship holds an important place in competitive international cricket match calendar.
The second edition of the ICC World Test Championship will commence in August 2021 with the India England Test series and the cut-off date for the Championship League stage is 31 March 2023.