With the dust settling from a climactic finish at the Gabba, the Black Caps’ road to Lord’s and the World Test Championship final in June has become a lot clearer.
India’s historic 2-1 series win in Brisbane means the Black Caps remain atop the ICC Test rankings and also pushed them into second in the WTC’s standings ahead of the shell-shocked Aussies and a fourth-placed England.
With the Black Caps’ Test schedule finished, all eyes turn to two other series in February that will finalise who heads to Lord’s later this year; Australia’s tour of South Africa and England’s four-Test series in India.
The Black Caps finished their WTC campaign with 420 points from a possible 600 - 70 per cent of the points on offer.
Due to Covid-19’s impact on the tournament, the ICC altered the championship so the top two teams will be decided on percentage of points earned from their series instead of points simply earned to balance out teams playing differing numbers of series.
That means the Black Caps make the final if only one other team finishes at 70 per cent or above and with India sitting at 71.7 per cent, Australia on 69.2 per cent and England at 65.2 per cent, there’s still plenty on the line next month.
Despite Covid-19 complications in South Africa, Australia’s tour is looking increasingly unlikely to proceed.
If it does go ahead, the Black Caps need the Proteas to score just one win in the three-Test series to knock the Australians out – a feat they’ve managed the last four times the Baggy Greens have toured there.
Of note though, if the tour were to be cancelled due to Covid-19 the Black Caps would secure a spot in the final ahead of Australia.
Should South Africa falter though, all eyes will then turn to the other series.
New Zealand would need England to win at least twice, draw three times, or take a win and draw from the four matches against India in order for the Black Caps to advance.
However, if England win their second Test against Sri Lanka in their current series to go up 2-0, and then pull off a 3-0 or 4-0 series win over India, then the Black Caps would need South Africa to take down the Aussies.
Simply put, to make the WTC final the Black Caps need South Africa to win at least once or draw at least twice when they host Australia or England to win at least twice, win once and draw once, or draw at least three times when they visit India.
If England beat Sri Lanka in their second Test, which starts later this week, then beat India 4-0 or 3-0, the Black Caps would need one of the South African scenarios to eventuate.
WTC Standings [Tests remaining]
1. India: 71.7 per cent of points won; four tests remaining at home v England
2. New Zealand: 70 per cent of points won; no tests remaining
3. Australia: 69.2 per cent of points won; three tests remaining away v South Africa
4. England: 65.2 per cent of points won; one test remaining away v Sri Lanka; four tests remaining away v India