Even as a standalone contest, Australia vs India is a marquee series with a lot riding on it, but with the World Test Championship final looming in June, there is plenty at stake for both teams in terms of the larger picture as well. New Zealand's 2-0 series win against West Indies lifts them to third in the Championship table, and if they repeat that scoreline against Pakistan later this season, both Australia and India will have some work to do to stay above them on the table. Here is a look at what this series, and India's home series against England, mean for their qualification prospects.
Series played: 4, Points: 360, Points %: 75
India have two series left in the current cycle, against Australia and England. Both are four-Test series, which means the points allocation for both series are the same: 30 points for a win, 10 for a draw.
If New Zealand get full points from their series against Pakistan, their tally will go up to 420, and their points percentage to 70. That means 70% is the target that India need to go past, to stay ahead of New Zealand.
For that to happen, India need at least 150 points, out of the 240 that are on offer from these two series. That can happen in two ways: if India win five matches, or if they win four (120) and draw three (30).
Given India's outstanding home record, they will have a fair chance of getting full points against England; that will mean they will need at least one win, or three draws, in the four Tests in Australia to reach that target of 150 points.
If, for instance, India lose to Australia by a 1-2 margin, they will need 110 points from the series against England. Given that a win will fetch 30 points and a draw 10, the only way they can reach 110 is if they win all four.
Series played: 3, Points: 296, Points %: 82.22
Australia are currently on 296, and need to go beyond 420 to have a 70-plus points percentage, if the series against South Africa happens. If that series is cancelled, their target will be to exceed 336. Given that the South Africa series is expected to be a three-Test one, there will be 40 points on offer for a win, and 13 for a draw.
Despite the myriad injury worries, Australia are still on a pretty firm wicket, thanks to the points tally they have already built up. If the series against India ends 2-2, Australia will be on 356 points, and a percentage of 74.17. From there, even a 1-0 series against South Africa will push them to 422 points, and just beyond New Zealand's reach. If they lose 1-2 to India, Australia will need a 2-0 series verdict against South Africa to stay above 70%.