India vs Bangladesh 2019: Who can challenge the Men in Blue in the ICC World Test Championship?
- Australia, England and New Zealand will look to make it tough for India as the Men in Blue look in the best position to lift the title.
Six matches. 300 Points. Top of the ICC World Test Championship Table with 240 points more than New Zealand and Sri Lanka who occupy the second position at the moment. That is how dominant India have been so far with another 60 points up for grabs in the day-night Test match in Kolkata.
After winning the two-Test match series in the Caribbean comfortably, India expressed their dominance at home in full measure against South Africa. The same has continued against Bangladesh with the first Test match in Indore finishing inside three days. While beating India in India has traditionally been an extremely difficult proposition, the overall improvement from the pacers has made the side invincible. It is an amazing fact that India haven't lost any series since the disappointing outings against England in 2012 when the visitors went away with a 2-1 scoreline.
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The same Indian side also showed that they are turning into more than a decent travelling team by beating Australia 2-1 in their own den last year. The fact that India have been so dominant against South Africa and Bangladesh even in the absence of star bowler Jasprit Bumrah should across as a massive warning side for other teams.
After this series against Bangladesh, India have two away tours to New Zealand and Australia while England will visit the country for a five-Test match series. Even though the away tours to New Zealand and Australia will test India, many have already predicted that the gap between the Men in Blue and other teams in the points table will continue to remain the same. This has been predicted mainly due to the lack of consistency and dominance of other teams on their own soil.
As result, the World Test Championship has almost turned into an India vs any other team affair. With only the top teams making the final at Lords in June 2021, it will be interesting to see which of the other teams will challenge India in the bid to lift the title for the first time in the event's history. Let us have a look at three teams who can challenge India and possibly get one over them.
Australia will definitely be one of the favourites to make the World Test Championship final at Lord's. Australia started off their campaign on a pretty good note with the Ashes series which ended with a 2-2 scoreline. Australia's eventual position in the points table will depend upon how they fare during the away tours of Bangladesh and South Africa.
Australia's last tours of the above-mentioned countries had mixed outcomes. While the Bangladesh series turned out to be 1-1 draw, the tour of South Africa turned out to be a forgetful one due to the Cape Town ball tampering incident which saw the trio of Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft being slapped with lengthy bans.
Steve Smith's return, in particular, has given a massive boost for Australia's ambitions in the World Test Championship with him scoring a massive 774 runs in the recent Ashes series. While Australia might have their task cut out against India at home, they should be able to pick up all the available points against Pakistan and New Zealand. While Australia's batting always does well at home, the bowling attack, which consists of #1 ranked Test bowler Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon should be a threat in any condition.
The fact that Australia almost upset India in India two years ago should give a lot of confidence to them. If they enter the final, it will be a lottery as to who will triumph at Lord's.
Australia's remaining fixtures
Two Tests vs Pakistan: Nov-Dec 2019 | Three Tests vs New Zealand: Dec-Jan 2019-20 | Two Tests vs Bangladesh: Feb 2020 | Four Tests vs India: Dec-Jan 2020-21 | Three Tests vs South Africa: Feb-Mar 2021
Yes, England haven't had the best of times in the longest format of the game but things could change positively in the World Test Championship. England make this list of teams that could challenge India because of a reasonably favourable fixture list.
Its incredibly difficult for most touring teams to succeed in England, West Indies and Pakistan might also struggle against the hosts. England also gave a good account of themselves away from home by beating Sri Lanka 3-0 last year in November. England also won their last series in South Africa with the Proteas being another challenge away from home. The only tour which will daunting is obviously the away series against India. In 2016, England lost convincingly by a 4-0 margin even after putting on decent performances with the bat.
With Jofra Archer and a few other young bowlers like Saqib Mahmood, Olly Stone on their side, England would hope for better fortunes this time around. Anyhow, the ongoing Test series against New Zealand will give a pretty good answer to how England's batting will fare for the next 18 months ago. Eventually, it is their unstable batting line-up that has always been seen as a major worry in recent times.
England's remaining fixtures
Four Tests vs South Africa Dec-Jan 2019-20 | Two Tests vs Sri Lanka Mar 2020 | Three Tests vs West Indies Jun 2020 | Three Tests vs Pakistan Jul-Aug 2020 | Five Tests vs India Feb-Mar 2021
#3. New Zealand
New Zealand will be the third and final team who we think could challenge India for the Test Championship title. New Zealand are somewhat an underrated team who will always punch above their weight.
At home, New Zealand prepare tracks which provide a lot of help on the first day and a half and then later turn into batting tracks. This plays into their hands and makes them a very difficult side to beat at home. With Pakistan and West Indies being two of the sides they will be facing at home, Kiwis will be looking to take maximum points and put themselves in a strong position in the points table.
Even against India, New Zealand will fancy their chances while the away tour of Bangladesh should see them doing well too. After defeating Pakistan 2-1 in the UAE last year, New Zealand kicked off their World Test Championship in August with a drawn Test series in Sri Lanka and that bodes well for the series in Bangladesh.
Just like the above mentioned teams, New Zealand will be a serious threat for India if they make the final at Lord's. The likes of Trent Boult and Tim Southee will be mightily effective while Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor are two of the best batsmen in the world and they should trouble India. Meanwhile, unlike Australia and England, New Zealand also have the advantage of playing only two or three Test-match series. Playing lesser number of Tests provides more weightage for each match. This was seen against Sri Lanka as New Zealand picked up 60 points for just one win.
New Zealand's remaining fixtures
Three Tests vs Australia: Dec-Jan 2019-20 | Two Tests vs India Feb-Mar 2020 | Two Tests vs Bangladesh Aug-Sep 2020 | Three Tests vs West Indies Nov 2020| Two Tests vs Pakistan Nov-Dec 2020-21.Published 21 Nov 2019, 10:15 IST