India's Road To WTC Final: From Home Domination To Heroics Down Under
World Test Championship final: India were in tearaway form in Test cricket from 2019 onwards, especially at home. But soon they took their form across to distant shores.
- India finished WTC league stage with 520 points
- Inaugural final of WTC will start on Friday at Southampton
- Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill are set to open for first time in England
Having dominated the ICC rankings from 2017, the commencement of the inaugural World Test Championship season in 2019 meant India could mark their command on the longest format of the game in recent times with a trophy to show. Finally, after two years of toil, the Virat Kohli-led side will take on New Zealand in the final of the WTC at Southampton starting Friday. But it was by no means an easy journey for India, with the new qualification rules enforced by the COVID-19 pandemic almost derailing their campaign.
India finished the league stage with 520 points from a possible 720, with 72.2% percentage of points won to top the table.
Here, we take a look at how India sealed their place in the World Test Championship final 2021:
West Indies vs India (2019)
India began their WTC campaign with a 2-0 series sweep in West Indies. The visitors dominated as Ajinkya Rahane and Hanuma Vihari shone with the bat, while Jasprit Bumrah notched a hat-trick in the second Test.
India vs South Africa (2019)
India's first home assignment in the WTC saw them comprehensively beat South Africa in all three Tests of a three-match series. Rohit Sharma, playing his first series as an opener in the longest format of the game, repaid the faith shown in him by the team management by hitting twin centuries in the first game of the series and then finishing off with his maiden Test double-century in the third Test.
In the bowling department, it was the Indian pacers who dominated the home series in a rare occurrence.
India vs Bangladesh (2019)
India continued their dominance in the World Test Championship with a 2-0 series sweep against Bangladesh, meaning they had won all of their first seven matches in the cycle.
While Mayank Agarwal scored a double-century in the first Test, the second match at the Eden Gardens marked the first-ever day-night Test for India.
Captain Virat Kohli scored a century and Ishant Sharma took a five-wicket haul in Kolkata as India won the pink ball test convincingly.
New Zealand vs India (2020)
India's final Test series before the COVID-19 pandemic brought a halt to international cricket saw them stumble for the only time in the WTC, and it is poetic that it came against their opponents in the final.
New Zealand beat India comfortably in both Tests as India's batting line-up failed to deal with the pace and bounce of the Kiwi attack.
Australia vs India (2020-21)
During the pandemic-enforced break, ICC changed rules to say that the table would be decided on the basis of percentage of points won, meaning India had to win their final two series of the cycle to make it to the finals - against AustraliaDown Under and at home against England.
The rule change spurred some drama in what seemed like smooth sailing for India until then.
India's series in Australia started in disaster - they were 36 all-out and slumped to defeat, with captain Virat Kohli set to return to India on paternity leave after the opening Day-Night Test in Adelaide.
India levelled the series in Melbourne, with stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane leading from the front with a fine century, but as injuries piled up, India looked up against it with the match in Sydney slipping away and a visit to Australia's fortress - the Gabba in Brisbane - yet to come for the final game of the series.
However, a fine rear-guard by Vihari and Ravichandran Ashwin - both playing with injuries - saw India save the match in Sydney, making the match at the Gabba the series decider.
Heroics from a series of players saw India win the match, and the series, at the Gabba against all odds, and kept them in with a big chance of qualifying for the WTC final.
India vs England (2021)
India's final hurdle was a four-match series at home against England. Visiting captain Joe Root's double-century saw India lose their only Test at home in the WTC 2019-21 cycle in the first game in Chennai.
However, India came roaring back and claimed the series 3-1 to finish on top of the WTC table and seal their spot in the final against New Zealand, who had already qualified ahead of India's series against England.