India and Pakistan, the two arch-rivals in cricket, have made significant progress towards what could potentially become a historic first-ever World Test Championship final clash between them. Admittedly, the final is still two years away, as the third cycle of the WTC has just commenced. However, the headstart both India and Pakistan have gained is remarkable. Notably, their recent series victories against West Indies and Sri Lanka, respectively, have contributed significantly to their advancement. Moreover, the heavy sanctions imposed by the ICC on England and Australia have also played a major role in propelling their journey forward. While it may seem ambitious to imagine such a monumental showdown, there’s no harm in daring to dream given the remarkable performances and favorable circumstances these cricketing giants currently find themselves in.
What Happened in Ashes?
Due to England’s slow over rate and Australia’s slow over rate during the recently finished Ashes series, which resulted in a thrilling 2-2 tie, the International Cricket Council penalized both teams 10 points. In the fifth Test, England was penalized five points for the over-rate infringement; in the fourth Test, three; in the second Test, nine; and in the first Test, two. This indicates that during the Ashes, the Ben Stokes-led team only once met the over-rate threshold.
As their over-rate was acceptable in four of the five Tests, Australia has performed marginally better in that regard. However, they paid a high price in the case when it wasn’t. As a result of being 10 overs short in the fourth Test, which finished in a draw as a result of several weather delays, Pat Cummins and company forfeited 10 WTC points. According to the current ICC rules, a team loses a WTC point for each over they are found to be under the proposed over-rate, accounting for any delays that may have occurred.
Australia and England finished the five-match Ashes series with precisely the same number of points (28) but are now at opposite ends of the WTC points chart. Australia’s percentage of points (PCT) is 30 after the 10-point reduction. They are in the third rank in the most recent WTC points standings.
How India and Pakistan Gain WTC Advantage from Ashes?
England is now ranked No. 5 in the points table, even behind West Indies, who have yet to win a Test match in this WTC, despite having lost 19 points and having a PCT of only 15. The ICC’s over-rate sanctions against England and Australia have put the two leading contenders on the back foot even though New Zealand, South Africa, and Bangladesh are still to play in this World Cup.
But this won’t bother Pakistan and India in the slightest. Following their comprehensive victory over Sri Lanka, Pakistan has a 100% point percentage to start the 2023–25 season. After a closely contested first Test, Babar Azam’s team overpowered the hosts with a commanding innings triumph. Following a closely contested first Test, Babar Azam’s team overpowered the hosts with a commanding innings triumph.
India, who has a victory and a draw to their name after their series against West Indies, is right behind them in second place with 66.66%. India established the tone with a significant innings victory in the first Test, but rain derailed their plans for a clean sweep in the second Test, which resulted in a tie.
The harsh punishments displeased England and Australian fans. Usman Khawaja, the Australian opener, really criticized the ICC’s decision on social media. “Due to two days of rain in Manchester, we didn’t even have a chance to bowl in the second innings, but the @ICC is still fining us and docking us 10 WTC points for sluggish over rates! That makes a lot of sense,” Khawaja tweeted.
England and Australia both had 26 points and a point percentage of 43.33 prior to the penalty. After the penalties, England fell to 15% and Australia to 30%, dropping them below West Indies at 16.67%.