India will take on Australia in this summer’s World Test Championship final at the Kia Oval after Sri Lanka fell out of the reckoning in dramatic fashion.
Sri Lanka, led by former England head coach Chris Silverwood, needed a 2-0 series win over New Zealand to maintain their push but lost a nerve-shredding first Test in Christchurch off the final delivery of the match.
A scrambled bye, completed by Kane Williamson just before the stumps were thrown down, settled the result in the Black Caps’ favour and ended Sri Lanka’s underdog push to finish second in the WTC table.
The best they can now hope for is a points percentage of 56, with India finishing on 58.80 after a draw in Ahmedabad gave them a 2-1 home win over the Australians.
India finished as runners-up in the inaugural WTC final at the Ageas Bowl in 2021, defeated by New Zealand. Australia had already secured top spot and a place in the final, which will run from June 7-11.
The Kiwis have endured a poor run in the tournament’s second iteration, sitting second-bottom in eighth place with a points percentage of 33.33. England, who have played the most games in the two-year qualifying period with 22, lie fifth on 46.97.
The fourth Test between the finalists finished in low-key fashion, with the tourists losing just two wickets on the fifth day to close out the draw.
Nightwatcher Matt Kuhnemann, who had been sent in to open on Sunday night, had an early exit as he was trapped lbw by Ravichandran Ashwin but the top order settled in on an unresponsive surface.
Travis Head (90) and Marnus Labuschagne (63no) put on 139 in 292 balls to shut down any chance of a positive result. Head was bowled late in the day by Axar Patel, with Steve Smith joining Labuschagne to see things through to stumps at 175 for two.