India World Test Championship schedule: All you need to know as Virat Kohli’s team plays West Indies
Virat Kohli's Indian cricket team has a busy Test calendar. © AFP

On Thursday (August 22), the Indian cricket team will play its first match of the new ICC World Test Championship when it meets hosts West Indies in Antigua.

Virat Kohli‘s team, ranked No 1 in Tests, resume playing the five-day format for the first time in January when it clinched a historic 2-1 Test series win on Australian soil.

(READ: Virat Kohli fancies India’s chances of being crowned winners)

India play two Tests in the West Indies and then host South Africa and Bangladesh across five Tests, before next playing the format in New Zealand in February 2020.

(READ: The challenges for Ravi Shastri in his second term as India coach)

Ahead of India’s debut in the World Test Championship, here’s the lowdown on the format.

WHAT IS THE WORLD TEST CHAMPIONSHIP? 

As per the ICC World Test Championship, nine of the 12 Test countries (barring Ireland, Afghanistan and Zimbabwe) will contest six series across two years – three home, three away – in a league format which culminates in a final in 2021.

During the two-year window the nine teams will play a total of 71 Tests across 27 series – three away and three home series -comprising of a minimum of two Tests and maximum of five. The top two teams at the top of the points tally will play in the final from June 14-20, 2021.

The WTC matches will be played like any bilateral series, but with the added context of a competition and one champion team.

 india world test championship schedule

HOW DOES THE POINTS SYSTEM WORK?

With points available for every Test match played, each country will play three home and three away series in the WTC. Series counts for 120 points, distributed over the number of matches in a series.

For example, a two-Test series will mean 60 points for each Test while a three-match contest will give 40 points to each Test match.  A tie will be 50% of the points available, whilst a draw will be a 3:1 points ratio.

WHEN DID THE WTC BEGIN?

The World Test Championship got underway with the Ashes series from August 1. The second series is the ongoing Sri Lanka vs New Zealand series, and India vs West Indies makes it three.

Sri Lanka vs New Zealand 1st Test
Sri Lanka beat New Zealand by six wickets to top the Test Championship table. © AFP

WHO CURRENTLY LEADS THE WTC?

Sri Lanka are top of the table having taken a full 60 points off New Zealand by virtue of a six-wicket win in Galle on Sunday. That saw them leapfrog Australia, who have 32 points, to No 1.

Australia beat England by 251 runs in the first Ashes Test earlier this month and on Sunday escaped with a draw at Lord’s.

ARE ALL TEST MATCHES PART OF THE WTC?

No, just those identified as part of the format count towards it. For example, New Zealand’s home Test series against England in October-November are not part of the WTC because that series was scheduled before the new competition was created.

DOES THIS IMPACT THE ICC TEST RANKINGS?

No. The ICC Test rankings will continue to run parallel to the WTC, with points for all 12 Test nations. The WTC points table is independent of the standard team rankings.