With the ODI and T20I formats having their own showpiece events in the World Cup and the World T20 respectively, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has decided to give the Test format a better sense of relevance by creating the World Test Championship.
Much like the Women's Championship, the World Test Championship will be contested in the league format, taking place over a period of two years — a first in the men's game.
The advent of the Twenty20 format and the mushrooming of various 20-over leagues all over the world played a role in declining interest in Test cricket, which was evident in the low turnouts in the five-day format, especially in the subcontinent. Additionally, bilateral series often got mundane, especially when contested between two sides with a vast difference in terms of their rankings, often leading to one-sided encounters.
With the Test Championship, the ICC hopes to boost viewership in the classic format of the game; every match contested in this tournament having a potential impact on the fortunes of other teams.
The inaugural edition of the Championship began with the first Test of the 2019 Ashes at Edgbaston on 1 August, with Australia becoming the first team to collect points with a resounding win. A total of nine teams will take part in the event — all the Test-playing nations barring Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and Ireland.
Each team plays a total of three home and away series', with the league phase ending on 31 March, 2021. The top two teams then qualify for the final that takes place in June, 2021.
The ICC later decided to rank the participating teams on the basis of the percentage of points earned from the total number of points available, instead of the total points accumulated due to the COVID-19 pandemic affecting a major portion of the 2020 cricketing calendar. As a result of the switch, Australia leapfrogged India to the top of the points table on 19 November.
Below is the full points table for the ongoing Test Championship:
*PCT: Percentage of points.
India finished on top of the league phase of the ICC World Test Championship standings after crushing England by an innings and 25 runs in the fourth and final Test in Ahmedabad to pocket the series 3-1.
"That victory against England means India finish the league phase of the inaugural ICC World Test Championship with a fine view from the top of the table," the ICC tweeted.
A confused England batting line-up struggled against Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin as India made it to the inaugural World Test Championship final.
India finished the league phase with 520 points, which includes 12 wins, four loses and one draw.
In the ICC World Test Championship final scheduled to be held at the iconic Lord's in June this year, India will face New Zealand.
New Zealand finished in the second spot with 420 points, including seven wins and four loses.
Australia finished third with 332 points ahead of England and Pakistan.
With inputs from PTI
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The 35-year-old will call time on a career of 73 Tests and 28 one-day internationals following a two-match Test series against England and the inaugural WTC final at Hampshire's Southampton headquarters.
The Indian team is scheduled to play the World Test Championship final against New Zealand at Southampton from 18-22 June before taking on England in a five-Test series.
England finished fourth in the WTC standings, behind Ashes rivals Australia.