Australia’s WTC challenge for India as Rohit and Co. gear up for ENG Test series

New Delhi: Having completed their final T20I assignment before the World Cup in June, Team India is off a mini-break. When they re-assemble early next week, the focus will shift back to the game’s traditional format, with India set to take on England in a five-match Test series starting January 25. It will be India’s third series in the ongoing World Test Championship cycle… and first on home soil, where they have remained unbeaten since 2012. And while India would be aiming to keep the streak alive against England, the last team that beat them at home, Australia, the defending WTC winners, have added a fresh twist to the current Test Championship standings.
Following their authoritative 3-0 win against Pakistan at home earlier this month, Australia put on yet another clinical show to take down a depleted West Indies at the Adelaide Oval, wrapping up the first match of the two-Test series inside three days.
Josh Hazlewood picked up his 11th five-wicket haul, finishing with 5 for 35, as Australia folded the Windies for just 120 runs in the 13th over of the third morning. With a target of just 26 runs for Australia, Steve Smith (11*) and Usman Khawaja (9*) almost completed the job before the left-hander walked off the field retired hurt after being struck by a bouncer from five-star Shamar Joseph. Two balls later, Marnus Labuschagne hit the winning run to hand Australia an unassailable 1-0 lead in the series.
The 10-wicket win, their sixth victory in the 2023/25 WTC cycle, helped Australia consolidate their position at the top of the points table. They now have 66 points from nine matches, implying a PCT (Percentage of points contested) of 66.11. Australia will play their second match against West Indies starting January 25 at the Gabba, where the Aussies have lost only one match since 1988. If Pat Cummins and his team maintains the winning run at their fortress, Australia could take their total points to 78 (PCT of 65).
India, meanwhile, stand second on the points table with just two wins in four games – one against West Indies in August last year and the other at the Centurion against South Africa earlier this month. For Rohit Sharma and Co. to topple Australia, they need to blank England 5-0 in the series. A whitewash could hand the hosts 60 points, taking their tally to 86 (PCT of 79.6).
India will also be wary of South Africa and New Zealand, placed third and fourth respectively, on the points table, even though they have 12 points each from two matches so far. Both will be up against each other in a two-match series early next month.
If England manage to emulate their 2012 feat, and either one of South Africa and New Zealand script a clean sweep, India, the two-time finalist, could be in trouble for not finishing in the top two in this WTC cycle. Long way to to, but Rohit and Rahul Dravid might just want to buckle up.

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