Cricket: How Blackcaps can book their flight to Lord's for World Test Championship final

The Blackcaps' clean sweep of their four-test summer has left them in pole position to qualify for the World Test Championship final at Lord's in June.

But their berth is far from guaranteed and even if they do make it to London, who they play is still very much in question.

As it stands, New Zealand have a winning percentage of 0.700, which is now the marker for Australia, India and England to book a spot in the final.

The percentage mark is based off how many points a team has scored against how many points available to them in the world championship series.

While the Blackcaps have completed their schedule, several other key series remain that can impact the outcome, including the ongoing clash between Australia and India, which currently sits at 1-1. 

As best we can explain, here are the convoluted scenarios at play and what the Blackcaps need to fall their way. 

Current standings

Australia - 332 points/0.738 
India - 400 points/0.720 
New Zealand - 420 points/0.700  
England - 292 points/0.608 

Points target required to beat New Zealand

Australia - 420 points
India - 504 points 
England - 502 points 

The Blackcaps have a point percentage of 0.700 - this is the baseline to work from. Teams must finish with a higher winning percentage to edge New Zealand for a place in the final.

The ongoing series between Australia and India will dictate the path to the final for the remaining three contenders.

Australia v India scenarios
Scenario one -
Australia win series 2-1
Australia 0.754 (362 points)/India 0.666 (400 points)

Scenario two - Series tied 1-1 
Australia 0.712 (342 points)/India 0.683 (420 points) 

Scenario thee - India win series 2-1
Australia 0.691 (332 points)/India 0.716 (430 points)

Cricket: How Blackcaps can book their flight to Lord's for World Test Championship final
Photo credit: Getty

That leaves four relevant series to decide the two finalists for Lord's, with India v England likely to prove the key. 

India v England (in India)
How India can get to 504 points based on the Aus v Ind scenarios.

Scenario one - India need 4-0 series win (0.722/520 points)
Scenario two - India need 3-0 series win (0.712/513 points)
Scenario three - India need minimum of 3-1 series win (0.722/520 points)

Australia v South Africa (in South Africa)
How Australia can get to 420 points based on Aus v Ind scenarios.

Scenario one - Australia need 1-0 series win (0.713/422 points)
Scenario two - Australia need minimum of 2-1 series win (0.703/422 points)
Scenario three - Australia need 2-0 series win (0.708/425 points)

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 19: Pat Cummins of Australia celebrates after taking the wicket of Virat Kohli of India during day three of the First Test match between Australia and India at Adelaide Oval on December 19, 2020 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty

England away in Sri Lanka / India 
England must beat Sri Lanka 2-0 or they can not reach their points target.
If they do, then they must beat India at least 3-0 to qualify for Lord's.

Other factors

Over-rates: Match referees can fine teams for slow over rates - Australia have already been pinged four points in last month's Melbourne test against India. Any points deduction handed out to the relevant teams can change the entire landscape of the mathematical formula laid out above. 

Weather: Draws are the devil for India and England in particular. Inclement weather could play a factor in preventing results. 

COVID-19: The global pandemic and an outbreak within any team could yet cause an immediate end to any of the series. If that happens, points still up for grabs would be split between the two sides, but the ICC can step in to adjust the formula to ensure fairness.

Please don't ask us to work that out. 

Lord's in London
Lord's in London Photo credit: Getty

New Zealand's ideal final opponents?

India - Highly debatable, but the thought of facing an attack featuring Mitchell Star, Patrick Cummins and Josh Hazlewood in overcast conditions at a ground Australia has owned England doesn't appeal much either. 

India have a few holes in their batting line-up, as shown by their recent effort in Adelaide, and New Zealand have a very good record against them at home in recent series. Lord's would offer similar conditions, which will favour the Blackcaps pace quartet. 

But Australia have traditionally dominated the Kiwis over the long form and beating them to become the first test world champions would go down as one of the greatest achievements in New Zealand sporting history.