Can Pakistan still qualify for World Test Championship final in 2023?

Babar Azam's team look to avoid 3-0 series defeat against England in Karachi

Pakistan's captain Babar Azam, left, is hoping to avoid a series whitewash against England at home. AFP
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Pakistan face an uphill battle when they meet England in the third Test of the series in Karachi from Saturday.

Not only are they hoping to avoid a first-ever Test series whitewash at home, Pakistan are also looking to salvage their World Test Championship hopes.

Injury-hit Pakistan fought well during both Tests but lost to a rampant England team that is redefining Test cricket with an aggressive approach to batting and insistence on going for victory even at the cost of defeat.

England have now won eight of their last nine Tests under the leadership of captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum.

On their first Test tour of Pakistan since 2005, England won the first match by 74 runs in Rawalpindi before pulling off a tough 26-run win in the second that finished in Multan on Monday.

What has made things difficult for Pakistan is injuries to their three main fast bowlers. Pace spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi was ruled out with a knee injury even before the start of the series.

Right-arm quick Haris Rauf hurt his right quadriceps during the first Test, while Naseem Shah has not recovered from a shoulder injury sustained before the second Test.

Captain Babar Azam put on a brave face Thursday despite facing a clean sweep.

"We missed out on crucial chances in both the matches, which cost us," said Azam.

"But the boys are eager to bounce back and we enjoy a good record in Karachi, so I am pretty sure that we will bounce back."

What is also on the line is Pakistan's hopes - admittedly minuscule - of qualifying for the World Test Championship final. The new format for deciding the best Test side sees teams competing in six series in a cycle - three home and three away, of series ranging from two to five matches. The top two teams with the most percentage of points won at the end of the cycle make it to the final.

Where do Pakistan stand in World Test Championship?

It's not looking good for Pakistan. They are currently sixth in the table with just 42.42 percentage points to their name. They have three matches remaining in the current cycle - one against England and two against New Zealand at home.

Even if Pakistan win all three matches, they will finish well outside the top two, as things stand. Table toppers Australia have 75 percentage points while second-placed South Africa have 60. India are on fourth with 52, and have a good chance of moving into the top two as they are dominating the ongoing Bangladesh series and next face Australia at home in four Tests.

Even if Pakistan win their remaining three Tests and the teams significantly ahead of them - Australia, South Africa, India and Sri Lanka - all drop points, it might not be enough. In all likelihood, Australia, and either one of South Africa and India will secure the necessary points to finish in the top two.

Australia are in the most comfortable position, with three Tests at home to South Africa and four in India next on their calendar. In the current cycle, a match win in any series is worth 12 points and draw is worth fourth points.

When and where is the World Test Championship 2023 final?

The title match for Test championship is set to take place at The Oval in London in June 2023.

Updated: December 16, 2022, 8:49 AM