England’s road to the World Test Championship final has become more difficult following their loss to India at Chennai.
The defeat leaves England with just one avenue to reach the WTC final – they must win both of their final two Test matches against India to qualify.
Here is how the last two WTC Tests scheduled before the final will determine who faces New Zealand in the decider.
England’s loss in the second match of the series against India saw them slip to fourth on the WTC standings. They have picked up 67 per cent of the points available to them.
Dropping three places shows how competitive it is among the contenders: England were sitting first with 70.2 per cent before their defeat at Chennai.
England’s road to the final from here is simple on paper but as tough as it gets in reality. They must beat India in each of the last two Tests of this series.
They have reason to be cautiously optimistic after winning the first Test of the series. However, that was only India’s second loss at home since 2013. Beating India in India is among Test cricket's toughest tasks.
What results see England reach the final?
There is only one equation: England has to win the series, 3-1.
Despite bouncing back to beat England in the second match, the remainder of this series looms as a serious banana skin for India in their push to join New Zealand in the WTC final.
India tumbled to fourth on the WTC standings after losing the first match of the series but are back at second following their win in the second match, showing again how tight the race to the final is among the top four teams.
India must win this series to reach to the WTC final. Given they have won each of their past 12 series at home – a run that goes back all the way to 2013 – they should be confident of getting the job done.
However, England showed that they are capable of beating India in India in the series-opener and just one more defeat will end India's hopes of making the final.
What results see India reach the final?
India can't afford two draws, or a loss. The two ways they can get to the final are:
India win 2-1
India win 3-1
Right now, after the postponement of the tour to South Africa, Australia’s WTC final hopes rest in the hands of India and England.
Australia currently sit third on the WTC standings. They picked up 69.2 per cent of the points available to them and have no further matches scheduled before the final.
However, they can still move up the standings, depending on how the current India-England series plays out.
What results see Australia reach the final?
India and England draw 1-1
India and England draw 2-2
England win 2-1