ICC World Test Championship – India confirmed as Finalists following fifth-day WTC drama
On a day of high Test drama, India sealed their place at the ICC World Test Championship Final 2023 by virtue of Sri Lanka’s dramatic last-over defeat against New Zealand and a drawn final Test in the Border Gavaskar Trophy, confirming a mouth-watering Australia-India matchup for the Ultimate Test at the Oval from 7 to 11 June, plus a reserve day.
Before the day’s play, Sri Lanka needed to bowl out New Zealand and hope that India failed to win in Ahmedabad to remain contenders for a spot in June’s showdown, however a thrilling climax in Christchurch saw an inspired Kane Williamson guide the hosts to chase down 285 for victory with two wickets to spare amid dramatic scenes.
In Ahmedabad, Australia’s batting resistance frustrated the hosts on the final day, with the match ending in a draw following five days of intense battle where batters on both sides scored big in an attempt to seize the upper hand.
The draw meant the Rohit Sharma-led India won the Border-Gavaskar series 2-1, and sees them conclude their World Test Championship campaign on 58.80%, ensuring their passage through to a second successive appearance in the Ultimate Test.
Sri Lanka’s loss leaves them unable to qualify for the Final with a current tally of 48.48%. Even a victory in the second Test against New Zealand at Wellington will not be enough to see them break into the top two of the ICC World Test Championship standings.
Australia had confirmed their qualification ten days ago thanks to their nine-wicket win in the Indore Test, and the draw helps them end the two-year Test competition in top spot. The Wellington Test is the last fixture in the ICC World Test Championship 2021-23 cycle with the Ultimate Test set to be the crowning glory for Australia or India.
India will be aiming to go one-better than the result two years ago at The Hampshire Bowl, Southampton where New Zealand won the inaugural edition thanks to a scintillating eight-wicket victory. The Ultimate Test also provides India another chance of grabbing an elusive ICC trophy (across formats) for the first time in 10 years, the Asian cricketing powerhouse last won the ICC Champions Trophy in 2013.
Indian captain Rohit Sharma said: “We are delighted to qualify for our second successive World Test Championship Final. We have played some outstanding cricket both home and away in the last two years and I am proud of my team and their unwavering commitment to success in Test cricket which is one of the main reasons for our qualification.
“We will soon turn our focus on the Ultimate Test at The Oval which is one of the most iconic Test venues in the world. Australia will definitely come hard at us in the final and it should make for an enthralling contest that will be enjoyed by five-day cricket fans from around the world.
“India have always enjoyed excellent support in England and I am confident that we will have a big turnout of Indian fans from 7 June once we begin our quest for the ICC World Test Championship Mace, we are determined to win the championship and improve on our performance at Southampton two years ago.”
The Ultimate Test will be a unique occasion for The Oval as this will be the first neutral Test (not involving England) to be staged at the historic venue which has hosted 104 Tests, including the first-ever Test to be played in England – 1880.
Tickets for the Ultimate Test went on general sale on 3 March, following a priority ballot for fans registered with the ICC, and seats for the Final have already been met with strong demand among fans.
Remaining tickets for the World Test Championship Final are available at https://tickets.worldtestchampionship.com/
Remaining ICC World Test Championship 2021-23 fixtures:
New Zealand v Sri Lanka (Second Test) – Wellington, New Zealand, 17-21 March
Australia v India (The Final) – The Oval London, England, 7-11 June