New Zealand’s 2-0 series win against Pakistan have made them serious contenders to qualify for the World Test Championship (WTC) final, to be played in June 2021 at Lord’s. With a percentage point (PCT) of 0.70, the Kiwis are now snapping at the heels of Australia and India.
What is New Zealand’s current standing in the WTC table?
As per the updated WTC table put out by the ICC, New Zealand are still placed third with 420 absolute points and 0.70 percentage points (70%). Absolute points are the total points earned from a Test series. Each series is allotted 120 points. So for a two-Test series, which is the minimum requirement, points earned per Test for a win is 60. New Zealand won both Tests, securing 120 points.
What is PCT then?
PCT is the percentage of points won out of the total number of points contested. For example, India are playing a four-Test series in Australia and the two teams are contesting for 120 points. For a four-Test series, points allotted per Test are 30, 15 and 10 for a win, tie and draw respectively. The series is tied at 1-1 at the moment which means that both Australia and India have secured 25 per cent each of the total points on offer.
Why is PCT so important?
In November last year, the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Cricket Committee headed by Anil Kumble decided to make the Covid-forced cancelled matches null and void and determine the WTC league standings only from the matches played. Under the changed system, the WTC league standings are being determined by the percentage of points earned instead of absolute points, with the top two teams qualifying for the final. The current WTC cycle ends on March 31, 2021 followed by the final in June.
How are India placed at the moment?
After today’s victory, New Zealand have the highest absolute points, 420, followed by India, 390 points and Australia, 322 points. But India are placed second, above New Zealand in the table, because their PCT, 0.722 (72.2%) edges New Zealand but is lower than that of Australia’s, 0.767 (76.6%), who sit atop. Simply put, India will play six more Tests in this WTC cycle – two in Australia and four at home against England. Four wins, or three wins and three draws will secure their qualification for the final.
Why is that?
Because New Zealand have finished their WTC assignments with 420 absolute points from five series played, or a total of 600 points contested. Their series in Bangladesh was cancelled due to the pandemic.
As for India, they didn’t have any series cancelled. They will have six series under their belt and 720 points contested. India need to take their absolute points to 504 to have a PCT of 0.700 (70%). As they can have just 30 points from each win (four-Test series), four more victories will take them 510 absolute points, and beyond New Zealand’s PCT.
What about Australia?
They can afford a 2-2 draw, for example, in the ongoing series to retain their PCT-based lead. Their PCT in that case will be 0.741 (74.1%). But if they lose the series to India, they will drop down the order. The Aussies, however, are scheduled to play a three-Test series in South Africa and they will finish the cycle with five series.
Does the PCT-based system offer confusion?
If Virat Kohli finds the changed qualification structure “confusing”, then fans probably are struggling even more. Kohli was asked about the changed structure ahead of India’s first ODI against Australia. He wasn’t impressed at all.
“It is definitely surprising because we were told that points are a matter of contention for the top two teams qualifying in World Test championships and now suddenly it has become percentage out of nowhere, so it is confusing and difficult to understand why,” he had said.