India moved up to the second position in the ICC World Test Championship points table last week, inching a step closer to the WTC final. The top two teams in the World Test Championship standings after all the matches in the first round end will progress to the final.
India topped the standings in the previous cycle and met second-placed New Zealand in the final. However, they fell short in the summit clash of the inaugural World Test Championship.
Nevertheless, the Rohit Sharma-led outfit have a great chance of lifting the trophy next year. As mentioned ahead, India are second in the points table. As things stand, India should qualify for the WTC final, but they have five more games remaining.
India need to win at least four, if not all five of their remaining games to seal a place in the WTC final. One of the five games will start tomorrow against Bangladesh. The other four games will take place in early 2023 against Australia at home.
If India lose two or more of their remaining games, they may not finish in the top two of the ICC World Test Championship points table. The chances of India missing out on the WTC final are low, but here are three players who could stop them from making the summit clash.
#1 Nathan Lyon
Australia will visit India for a Test series for the first time since 2017. In the last five years, no team has beaten India in a home Test series. England won the first Test of their series against India last year but ended up losing 3-1.
England made the mistake of playing fast bowlers on spin-friendly surfaces. Australia will be keen not to repeat the same mistake. They have a top-quality spinner in Nathan Lyon who could exploit the conditions in Ahmedabad and Nagpur to trouble the hosts.
#2 Steve Smith
Steve Smith has an exceptional record in Tests against India. He always brings his 'A' game to the table in Border-Gavaskar Trophy games. Smith has played a lot of cricket in India, which is why he will be familiar with the conditions.
Looking at his past record against India, one can say that he could prove to be the most dangerous Australian batter in the upcoming series.
#3 Marnus Labuschagne
Marnus Labuschagne has achieved a lot of success in short Test career so far. He matched the ICC Test Rankings rating of Virat Kohli recently. However, Labuschagne has never played a Test match in India.
It will be interesting to see if he can continue his top form when he comes to India for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. If he scores heaps of runs in the four Tests, he could stop India from making the WTC final.
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