SL vs ENG: England close in on Australia in race to World Test Championship final
Fourth-placed England's best chance of reaching the final is to win the four-match series against India by a 3-0 or 4-0 margin.
The World Test Championship (WTC) final race is hotting up with fourth-placed England moving within 0.5 percentage points (PCT) of third-placed Australia. India are on top of the table with 71.7 percentage points, followed by New Zealand on 70.0 per cent.
England now have 68.7 percentage points, which is 0.5 lower than Australia's 69.2 percentage points.
"With a 2-0 series sweep over Sri Lanka, England are now only 0.5 percentage points behind Australia in the ICC World Test Championship standings," the International Cricket Council (ICC) tweeted.
The gap between the two teams was wide at the start of this year. However, Australia's 2-1 Test series loss to India saw them slip to third and England's 2-0 series win over Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka has narrowed the gap.
The top two teams will play the ICC World Test Championship final in London in June.
WTC rankings after England-Sri Lanka series:
1. India (71.7 percentage points)
2. New Zealand (70.0)
3. Australia (69.2)
4. England (68.7)
5. South Africa (40.0)
6. Pakistan (30.7)
7. Sri Lanka (16.7)
8. West Indies (11.1)
9. Bangladesh (00.0)
Qualification scenarios for reaching WTC final:
India: 71.7 percentage points
Remaining matches: Four-Test home series against England
To cement their place in the final, India will need to win their upcoming four-match home series against England by at least a two-match margin. If they lose one Test, they will need to win three games (4-0, 3-0, 3-1 or 2-0), whereas a 0-3 or 0-4 loss against England will wipe away their chances of making the final regardless of other results.
New Zealand: 70.0 percentage points
Remaining matches: None
The equation for New Zealand is simple; as they may not have more engagements (their home series against Bangladesh is not confirmed). New Zealand will remain on 70.0%, having claimed 420 points from a possible 600. Therefore, they need no more than one other team to finish with more than 70.0% of points earned. For example, a combination of England winning all their remaining matches and South Africa winning by a 3-0 or 2-0 margin against Australia would end New Zealand's chances of making the final.
Australia: 69.2 percentage points
Remaining matches: Three Tests in South Africa (To Be Confirmed -- TBC).
Australia have slipped to third place with 69.2% points after their loss in the final Test against India in Brisbane. To secure a place in the final, Australia will have to win at least two Tests of the yet to be confirmed three-match series against South Africa and avoid any losses. On the other hand, a home series win by South Africa will end Australia's chances of making the final. Any other results require a favourable combination of series results not featuring Australia.
England: 68.7 percentage points
Remaining matches: Four Tests in India
Fourth-placed England's best chance of reaching the final is to win the four-match series against India by a 3-0 or 4-0 margin. Any other results require a favourable combination of series results not featuring England.
South Africa: 40.0 percentage points
Remaining matches: Two Tests in Pakistan, Three-Test home series against Australia (TBC)
After England's series win in Sri Lanka, South Africa's hopes of making the final have ended.
The remaining teams -- Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the West Indies and Bangladesh -- cannot reach the WTC Final even if they win all their remaining fixtures.
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