Melbourne, August 21: Former Australia all-rounder Shane Watson has predicted Australia and South Africa will be the ICC World Test Championship 2021-23 finalists, but feels India and Pakistan could be challengers for the spot.
South Africa and Australia currently occupy the top two spots in the WTC table followed by Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan, who still stand a chance to break into the top-two spots in case things go wrong for teams above them in the points table.
Watson said it is very hard for South Africa and Australia, who have played some good cricket in the WTC cycle, to "not make the final".
"Right now, the way I see it, it is going to be hard for South Africa and Australia to not make it," Watson said on the latest episode of ICC Review.
"They are both playing really good cricket. Australia played good cricket apart from that last Test against Sri Lanka where they got swept up in turning conditions in the last innings," he added.
However, the legendary Australian feels some bad performances from the current top two will open up an opportunity for India and Pakistan to sneak into the top two spots.
"You can never discount India and Pakistan, because they have got so many match winners, outside of their home countries as well. Those two, I would be very surprised if they do not come knocking on the door leading into the final," he said.
Pakistan will have home advantage for their five final fixtures, where they will face New Zealand and England, while India will be hosting Australia in four of their final six WTC matches and touring Bangladesh.
Meanwhile, the current top two will face each other as Australia host South Africa for three Tests later this year. The Australian side will also host West Indies, who will tour South Africa next year.
Watson, who has represented Australia in 59 Test matches, wishes that he was a part of WTC, which was introduced after he retired from international cricket.
"I wish I did (play in the WTC). Even in my playing days, in Test cricket, there was a lot of talk about the ICC World Test Championship coming into play, and it took way too long to be put into place, and unfortunately, I missed out on it," he said.
While he missed out on playing in the World Test Championship, Watson revealed that he was fortunate to play in the Australia vs World XI Super Test in 2005.
"I was very fortunate to play a 'Super Test' in 2005, Australia against a World XI, which was something very special - it was one of the first Test matches I played. That was special to be a part of, but this is even more so, to be able to win an ICC event and it being in Test cricket," Watson added.
"For the current playing group, Test cricketers around the world, it is very special to know there's a culmination coming with a (WTC) final."