The inaugural World Test Championship final between India and New Zealand will crown the best men's Test team in the world.
When Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson lead out their men for the final on Friday, it will be the successful culmination of a tournament which was mooted nearly a decade ago.
Before the two teams face off at the Rose Bowl in Southampton, here's all you need to know about the competition.
What is the World Test Championship?
The idea for a Test championship was first pitched in 2009. A year later, the then ICC CEO Haroon Lorgat hinted at conducting a Test championship with the four top-ranked Test teams in 2013 to replace the ICC Champions Trophy.
According to the proposal, a league stage comprising of 10 Test teams would play each other over four years with the top-four teams would take part in a play-off for the final. The ICC even mooted the idea of the final being a "timeless Test", wherein both teams would keep playing after the stipulated five days until a winner emerged. The last timeless Test was held in 1939. h0ttps://www.theguardian.com/sport/2011/jul/18/icc-timeless-test-world-championship
However, a year later, ICC postponed the idea to 2017 and went ahead with the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy. The Test championship was once again postponed, this time to 2019.
The first World Test Championship match was the first Ashes Test of 2019 when Australia beat England by 251 runs at Birmingham.
What are the rules of the WTC?
Nine Test-playing nations were a part of the inaugural WTC - Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and West Indies.
Unlike other sporting leagues around the world, the WTC is structured in a way that teams do not play all of the other teams in the league. This meant, they wouldn't play the same number of matches.
Instead, each team would only play six of the other eight teams in Test series - three at home and three away from home - over a two-year period. Each series had 120 points at stake.
These 120 points would be equally divided between the number of matches scheduled in the series. This was done to ensure teams like Bangladesh and West Indies who play in smaller series were not at a disadvantage.
Depending on the number of matches in a series, a win would fetch a team maximum points. In case of a tie, where scores are equal at the end of play with the last batting team being all-out, both teams would split the maximum points between them.
In case of a draw, where one or both the teams have not completed their innings by the scheduled end of play, each team would be awarded one-third of the maximum points on offer.
How did the COVID-19 pandemic effect the WTC?
The COVID-19 pandemic forced a number of Test series to be cancelled. The ICC's cricket committee met in November 2020 and decided to employ a percentage of points earned system to decide the league rankings.
In this system, the league table would be decided on the basis of percentage of points won in the matches played. This would ensure teams who have had series cancelled would still have a fair chance of making it to the final.
In this methodology, teams were ranked on the basis of percentage of points won out of the total points contested.
How did India and New Zealand qualify?
India topped league with 520 points and a points percentage of 72.20 percent.
New Zealand, with a total haul of 420 points would have been pipped by England (442 points) to the final according to the old rules. However, with a points percentage of 70, they qualified for the final over England who only had a points percentage of 61.42 percent.
The WTC final was earlier set to be held at the iconic Lord's Cricket Ground. However, the ICC decided that the Rose Bowl in Southampton would be better suited to host the final in a bubble.
What are the rules for the final?
The match will be played using Dukes cricket balls to maintain neutrality. India use the SG balls for their home Tests while New Zealand use Kookaburra balls for their home Tests.
In case of a draw or a tie, India and New Zealand will be declared joint champions.
A reserve day has been allocated to complete the match but only to make up for lost time during the stipulated five days. This means that the reserve day will not be used to declare a winner should the match end in a draw after five full days of play.
The reserve day will only be used if the lost time over five days exceeds 60 minutes.
The ICC has also decided to implement new rules for the playing conditions of the final.
Along with no-balls, the Third Umpire will automatically review short runs and communicate the decision to the on-field umpires before the next ball.
When it comes to reviewing LBW decisions, the fielding captain or the dismissed batter can ask the umpire whether a genuine effort was made to play the ball.
The height margin of the wickets have been lifted to the top of the stumps to ensure umpire's call is the same for height and width.
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