India, Pakistan gain huge advantage in WTC after ICC punishes England and Australia; social media raged
Pakistan and India strengthened their position in the top two of WTC points table after ICC docked multiple points from England and Australia.
India and Pakistan have taken giant strides towards what could be a historic first-ever World Test Championship final between the two arch-rivals. Okay, it's a bit too farfetched, considering that the third cycle of the WTC has just started and the final is two years away. But with the kind of headstart India and Pakistan have got not only because of their series wins against West Indies and Sri Lanka respectively but also (read majorly) because of ICC's heavy sanctions imposed on England and Australia, one shouldn't be pulled up for daring to dream.
ICC docked 10 points from Australia and as many as 19 from England for maintaining a slow-over rate in the recently-concluded Ashes which ended up in a riveting 2-2 draw. England lost five points for the over-rate offence in the fifth Test, three in the fourth Test, nine in the second, and two in the first Test. This means the Ben Stokes-led met the over-rate criteria only once during the Ashes.
Australia have fared slightly better in that respect as their over-rate was fine in four of the five Tests. But in the one that it wasn't, they paid a heavy price. Pat Cummins and Co lost 10 WTC points for being 10 overs short in the fourth Test that ended up as a draw due to multiple rain interruptions.
As per the new ICC guidelines, a team is docked a WTC point for every over they are found short of the proposed over-rate, taking all possible delays into account.
As a result, Australia and England, despite earning exactly the same points (28) after the five-match Ashes, are at different ends of the WTC points table. After the 10-point deduction, Australia's percentage of points (PCT) stands at 30. They are at No.3 in the current WTC points table.
England, after losing 19 points, have got a PCT of only 15 and they are currently at No.5 in the points table, even behind West Indies, who are yet to win a Test in this WTC.
How England and Australia's loss became India and Pakistan's gain in WTC points table
New Zealand, South Africa, and Bangladesh are yet to play in this WTC but ICC's over-rate punishment for England and Australia have sent the two major contenders on the backfoot.
India and Pakistan, however, won't mind this one bit. Pakistan have made a perfect start to the 2023-25 campaign with a point percentage of 100 after their clean sweep against Sri Lanka. After a closely fought first Test, Babar Azam's men dominated the hosts with a thumping innings victory in the second Test.
Closely tailing them are India in the second spot with 66.66%, who have a win and a draw against their name after their series against West Indies. India set the tone with a massive innings win in the first Test but rain dampened their hopes of a clean sweep in the second Test that ended in stalemate.
Needless to say, ICC heavy penalties did not go down too well with England and Australia fans. In fact, Australia opener Usman Khawaja took to social media to criticise ICC for its decision.
"Don't even get the chance to bowl in the second innings at Manchester due to 2 days of rain and @ICC still issue fines and take 10 WTC points of us for slow over rates! That makes a lot of sense...," tweeted Khawaja.
Here's how Twitter reacted to ICC's over-rate penalties on England, Australia
Before the sanctions, England and Australia had 26 points each and a point percentage of 43.33. After the penalties, Australia dropped to 30% while England plummeted to 15%, taking them below West Indies at 16.67%.
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