Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli
Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli

Australia climbed to the pole position and pushed India to the second spot in the World Test Championship (WTC) after the International Cricket Council (ICC) on Thursday made changes to the WTC rules due to Covid-19 pandemic and decided to rank teams "in order of percentage of points earned" from the contested matches.

India was the leading the points table but with new rules, but Australia has now toppled the Virat Kohli-led side in terms of percentage of points. Australia (296 points from 3 series) toppled India (360 points from 4 series) in the standing after the revision with a percentage of 82.22 compared to the latter's 75 per cent.

Although India still have 64 more points than Australia and more series wins, the Aussies have gone atop after the ICC Board approved that the matches played and the matches lost won`t be treated as drawn and points would be split. Australia now have 0.822 percentage points, which propelled them to the No.1 spot, while India have 0.750.

England are at the third position with 0.608 percentage points, New Zealand fourth with 0.500, and Pakistan fifth with 0.395.

With the global COVID-19 pandemic disrupting cricket, "just under half of the World Test Championship matches have been played, with that estimated to rise to more than 85% by the end of the competition window."

Changes to the rules were made to determine the nine teams' standings on the points table. The changes were recommended by the Anil Kumble-headed ICC Cricket Committee.

"The unprecedented disruption caused by Covid-19 means, to date, just under half of the WTC matches have been played, with that estimated to rise to more than 85 per cent by the end of the competition window. Current regulations dictate that matches not completed shall be treated as a draw with points split. The Cricket Committee considered maintaining that status quo or determining the final WTC League standings from matches played," said an ICC press statement on Thursday.

"The Cricket Committee recommended the latter option, which was approved by the Chief Executives Committee and ratified by the Board, meaning teams will be ranked in order of percentage of points earned," it said.

India will lock horns with Australia in a four-match Test series in Australia starting December 17 in Adelaide. The result of this series could change the league standings.

Here is the new World Test Championship table

World Test Championship table
World Test Championship table

According to current regulations, incomplete matches are treated as draw but after due deliberation, the ICC Cricket Committee recommended that the final WTC standings should be determined on the basis of matches played, which was approved by the Board.

"Both the Cricket Committee and Chief Executives Committee supported the approach of ranking teams based on completed matches and points earned as this reflects their performance and doesn't disadvantage teams that have been unable to compete all of their matches through no fault of their own," ICC Chief Executive Manu Sawhney said.

"We explored a whole range of options, but our Members felt strongly that we should proceed as planned with the first ever World Test Championship Final in June next year."

Explaining, ICC General Manager of Cricket Operations, Geoff Allardice, said, "Number of series that were to be played under WTC has been postponed and it does not look like they will be finished before the end of competition window which is the end of March 2021."

"We decided to make a change based on the matches that teams actually play and the percentage of points they win from those matches. The final is scheduled for June 2021 in the UK. The finishing points will now be determined by the percentage of points each team wins from the matches they actually play and that is to adjust for the teams that may not play all their matches by the end of the competition," said Allardice said in a video posted on ICC`s Online Media Zone.

(With inputs from agencies)

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