Steve Smith-led Australia beat India by nine wickets to win the third Test in Indore.With that, Australia became the first team to confirm their place in the ICC World Test Championship final.
India and Sri Lanka are the two contenders for the remaining finalist’s slot. A win in Ahmedabad will earn the Rohit Sharma-led side a trip to London for their second successive ICC World Test Championship Final.
For Sri Lanka to qualify, they need to clean sweep New Zealand 2-0 in the away series beginning in Christchurch on 9 March and hope for India’s defeat or a draw in Ahmedabad.
As a result of India’s victory in Delhi for 2-0, the number of teams able to qualify for the final went down from four to three. South Africa dropped out of contention, unable to reach the percentage points required to break into the top two irrespective of their result against West Indies.
WTC standings after Indore Test
The current cycle runs from July 2021 to June 2023 and comprises the top nine Test teams, all of whom will play six series each - three at home and three away. The top two teams will compete in the final, now confirmed to be at the Oval starting on 7 June.
Remaining ICC World Test Championship Fixtures:
South Africa v West Indies (2nd Test) – Johannesburg, South Africa, 8-12 March
New Zealand v Sri Lanka (1st Test) – Christchurch, New Zealand, 9-13 March
India v Australia (4th Test) – Ahmedabad, India, 9-13 March
New Zealand v Sri Lanka (2nd Test) – Wellington, New Zealand, 17-21 March
In Indore, the tourists who were led by Steve Smith due to regular captain Pat Cummins’ unavailability dominated the Test from the start with spinners Nathan Lyon and Matthew Kuhnemann spearheading the victory by sharing a staggering 17 out of the 20 Indian wickets to fall in the match. Player of the Match Lyon was in inspired form, taking 11 wickets over the course of the tie, while Kuhnemann captured six.
Australia need to win the final Test in Ahmedabad to maintain their unbeaten run, currently trailing India 2-1 in the four-match Border-Gavaskar series. In the 2021-23 cycle, Australia defeated England 4-0 at home, Pakistan 1-0 away, drew 1-1 in Sri Lanka, and beat both the West Indies and South Africa 2-0 at home before their ongoing India tour.
Thanks to their supreme run of results in the longest format, the win in Indore ensures they will end the cycle at the summit of the World Test Championship standings, moving to 69 percentage points with only the Ahmedabad Test still to play.
Current Australian captain Steve Smith said, “It’s incredibly rewarding to qualify for our first ICC World Test Championship Final. It has been a goal of ours for quite a while now.
“The players and staff deserve a lot of credit for the standard of cricket we have played over the past two years. It would be a great reward for everyone to finish as World Test Champions.
“To also be able to play the WTC final ahead of the Ashes means it will be a great opportunity for our fans to lengthen their stays to come and watch us at The Oval. We still have one Test to play here in India where we hope to maintain this momentum.”