New Zealand leapfrogged Australia and India to take top spot in the World Test Championship (WTC) points table after a thumping 281-run victory against an understrength South African team in the first Test at Mount Maunganui. New Zealand is currently ranked number 1 in the WTC points table with a percentage of 66.66 percentage points. The team led by Tim Southee now has a good chance of qualifying for the WTC finals next year. They are firm favorites to win the next test and take both series 2-0 against a South African team that featured up to six debutants in the first test. Most of South Africa’s top-line cricketers were unavailable for this series as the dates coincided with SA20.
After Kane Williamson’s twin centuries and Rachin Ravindra’s double ton gave New Zealand a dominant position ahead of Day 4 play, pacer Kyle Jamieson backed by spinner Mitchell Santner enabled the hosts to claim a dominant victory.
With overcast conditions over the beautiful Bay Oval, Jamieson set the tone for the final session by striking twice after lunch to remove David Bedingham (87) and Keegan Petersen (16).
South Africa, in their quest to chase 529, collapsed at 247 with Santner picking up the last wicket of Dane Paterson.
New Zealand, champions of the inaugural WTC in 2021, have only contested three Tests during this current WTC cycle. At the end of last year they drew 1-1 against Bangladesh.
Australia (55), last year’s champion, falls to second place after the result at Bay Oval, India (52.77) falls to third place and South Africa falls again to seventh and below fourth place, Bangladesh, Pakistan in fifth and the West Indies in sixth.
India and England, however, have a strong chance of making changes to their rankings in the coming weeks. They are currently playing a five-match series in India. England won the first Test in Hyderabad to take a 1-0 lead, but India fought back with an impressive run of 106 in the next Test in Visakhapatnam to make it 1-1.
The next three Tests will be extremely crucial for India. They would want to win at least two of them to have a good chance of getting a third shot at the WTC title. They have a tough tour of Australia planned towards the end of the year. The third Test begins on February 15 in Rajkot.