Barring a combination of miracles, Pakistan is now practically out of the contention for the ICC Test Championship final after losing the Karachi Test against England – a natural consequence of the humiliating first-ever white wash in a home series.
But miracles do happen. Aren’t they? Pakistan can still hope that some teams will perform brilliantly and others poorly.
The equation was simple for Pakistan before the Karachi Test – the last of the three-match series. They were required to win all the remaining matches during the current cycle – three in total one against England and two during the upcoming home series against New Zealand.
Pakistan is currently ranked seventh out a total of nine nations with 38.89 percentage points. Before the Karachi Test, they were at the sixth with an outside chance if other teams – barring Australia which enjoy a huge lead – perform badly in their next Test matches.
But Pakistan, as always, is still banking more on others rather than focusing solely on their own performance – a routine headache for their supporters.
What is the equation?
Let’s focus on digesting the following.
If Pakistan can win their final two Test matches against New Zealand this period later this month, they can finish with a win-percentage as high as 47.62 percent.
That could be enough for them to finish in front of seven other sides and claim second place on the final standings, but this is what also needs to occur:
Australia will be their best ally as they will require Pat Cummins side to continue on their winning ways against South Africa and then next year against India
They will need Bangladesh to do them a favour and cause a huge upset by defeating India in their ongoing Test series in Mirpur
They will need New Zealand to defeat Sri Lanka in both of their Test matches in March next year
They will require the West Indies to defeat South Africa in one of the two Tests away from home next year and then hope the second match ends as a draw (this would ensure both sides finish lower than Pakistan on the standings).
Five teams are still in the race
- Australia – 76.92% of possible points
Remaining series: South Africa (home, two Tests), India (away, four Tests)
Best possible percentage finish: 84.21%
Australia are in the box seat to qualify for their first World Test Championship final. They have two more matches at home against the Proteas in Melbourne and Sydney.
Four Tests in India for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in February and March next year will be Australia’s final assignment this period, but they may almost have their place in the final wrapped up prior should everything go their way on home soil.
- India – 55.77% of possible points
Remaining series: Bangladesh (away, one Test), Australia (home, four Tests)
Best possible percentage finish: 68.06%
India cruised to an easy victory over Bangladesh away from home and will be hoping veteran skipper Rohit Sharma will recover from his thumb injury in time to feature in the next Test. A positive result against Shakib Al Hasan’s side will have the Asian side well placed for a top-two finish.
But they will need to produce some good results during their series against pacesetters Australia if they are to make it back-to-back appearances in the World Test Championship final.
- South Africa – 54.55% of possible points
Remaining series: Australia (away, two Tests), West Indies (home, two Tests)
Best possible percentage finish: 69.77%
South Africa with a brittle batting lineup suffered a huge blow after their six-wicket loss to Australia when they dropped out of a top-two place and were replaced by India in second spot.
But the good news for Dean Elgar’s side is they still have an opportunity to reclaim their place inside the top two, but they must hit back quickly during their ongoing series in Australia.
South Africa do have the luxury of two matches at home against the West Indies in February and March, but they will want to make sure they don’t leave themselves with too much to do by the time that series comes around.
- Sri Lanka – 53.33% of possible points
Remaining series: New Zealand (away, two Tests)
Best possible percentage finish: 61.11%
One of the big winners from recent Tests has been Sri Lanka, who have had their chances of an inaugural appearance in the World Test Championship final improved without even playing a match.
Regardless of other results between now and next year’s final, Sri Lanka are still going to have to win all their remaining Test matches this period to have any hope of featuring.
Just one series remains for Sri Lanka – a two-Test trip to New Zealand in March – where they have won just twice in 19 attempts.
Maximum points in New Zealand would take them to 61.1%, meaning they’ll be hoping Australia can continue on their winning ways and they can sneak into second place with two wins over the Kiwis.
- Pakistan – 42.42% of possible points
Remaining series: New Zealand (home, two Tests)
Best possible percentage finish: 47.62%
Out of contention
- England – 44.44% of possible points
Remaining series: Pakistan (away, one of three Tests remaining)
Best possible percentage finish: 46.97%
While England are one of the form teams of the current World Test Championship period, poor results early in the period means they can no longer qualify. But they also ended Pakistan’s hopes with a victory in the third and final Test of the series in Karachi.
- West Indies – 40.91% of possible points
Remaining series: South Africa (away, two Tests)
Best possible percentage finish: 50%
Just two Tests remaining for the West Indies, with their recent 2-0 series loss to Australia leaving Kraigg Brathwaite’s side with no chance of progressing.
- New Zealand – 25.93% of possible points
Remaining series: Pakistan (away, two Tests), Sri Lanka (home, two Tests)
Best possible percentage finish: 48.72%
While New Zealand still have four Tests remaining this period, they won’t be able to defend the World Test Championship mace they won at Lord’s last year. Certainly a disappointing cycle for the Kiwis.
But they could put the final nail in the coffin for both Pakistan and Sri Lanka during their upcoming series.
- Bangladesh – 12.12% of possible points
Remaining series: India (home, one Test)
Best possible percentage finish: 19.44%
It’s been a very disappointing campaign for Bangladesh thus far, with the Asian side all but certain to finish on the bottom of the standings.
Their final match of the current period comes in Mirpur against India and they will be hoping to reverse the result from the first Test of the series in Chattogram.