As the battle lines are drawn today (17th DEC.2020) for one upmanship in the BORDER GAVASKAR (BG)Trophy in the match underway at Lord’s in a few hours, stakes are high  also in the inaugural World Test Championship (WTC) title .  The ICC floated the idea of WTC to stem the rot for the dwindling public patronage for Test matches.

As a result of the pandemic, standings are now being calculated on points percentage rather than points total. Australia tops the table on 82.2%. New Zealand are on 62.5%, but will hit 70% if they beat Pakistan 2-0 in the series that starts on 26 December. That pecks the order to qualify for the Lord’s final in June India (currently on 75%) would need five wins from their remaining eight Tests, or four wins and three draws.  

In the BG trophy, the Australians will have an upper hand as they play in their home turf with full strength ( of course Warner will be missed in Adelaide).  In the first outing itself at Adelaide and with spectators participation,  Aussies will be in  full cry.  Australia’s frontline bowlers have great numbers in day-night Test cricket too. You get a relentless attack that has taken quickly to pink-ball cricket. Australia are both pioneers as well as the most dominant team in this format .They have played seven of the 14 day-night Test matches that have been held since November 2015, and have never lost.

And the remaining tests will also be played in their familiar home conditions and King Kohli will be missed in the remaining 3 tests.  

And so to the Test series and the resumption of a rivalry that in terms of quality, entertainment value and wider resonance has a fair claim to be the most compelling in the sport today.

The allurement is the sense of competing cultures, competing systems, competing visions of the game. For all the talk of reinvention and elite mateship, Australian cricket is more bound up in tradition than it often likes to admit. Its basic DNA – a familiar formula of hard pitches, hard cricket, bone-breaking pace and six batsmen with ticker – has remained largely unchanged for decades.  But we have exceptions on both sides as Smith plays like Indians and Kohli like Australians.  Greg Chappel  remarked “Kohli is the most Australian non-Australian cricketer of all time”. And Kohli  refusing  to accept the praises heaped on him says, “ he wants  to identify himself as a representative of a “new India”, which “stands up” to all challenges.

So that leaves the question to India that they have to win two games to have a cushion as India is going to host England  4 tests at home turf in Feb.2021  where they  have to win  all the 4 matches to set up a summit clash of WTC  in Final at Lord’s in June 2021. Either way it is a tough call for India. Let’s keep fingers crossed for some miracle to happen at Down Under.  

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