ICC World Cup: Don’t rule out an India-Pakistan semi-final at Eden yet
As the top finisher takes on the no. 4 team in the first semi-final, India is lined up to take on either New Zealand, Pakistan or Afghanistan
It has now boiled down to a three-way race between New Zealand, Pakistan and Afghanistan for the one remaining spot in the last four of the ICC World Cup 2023. Australia rode Glenn Maxwell’s heroic 201 not out on Tuesday night to confirm the knockout stages along with India and South Africa.
India, with an all-win record from eight games, are perched on top of the heap with 16 points, while South Africa and Australia lie in second and third positions, respectively. The ifs and buts have come into play over the fortunes of the three teams in the running, with the possibility of an India-Pakistan semi-final in Kolkata also alive.
As the top finisher takes on the no. 4 team in the first semi-final, India is lined up to take on either New Zealand, Pakistan or Afghanistan, while the second semi-final pits the Proteas against Australia the next day. However, if it’s an India-Pakistan semi-final, the marquee clash will be held at Eden Gardens on 16 November.
The three leagues from Thursday-Saturday assume great significance, with New Zealand taking on Sri Lanka in Bengaluru (9 Nov), Afghanistan vs South Africa in Ahmedabad (10 Nov) and Pakistan vs England in Kolkata (11 Nov). Australia take on Bangladesh in Pune on 11 November, while India takes on the Netherlands in Bengaluru on 12 November, but neither of these two matches will impact the semis line-up.
A look at the possible scenarios for the three teams in the semi-finals race:
New Zealand (8 points)
Remaining fixture: Sri Lanka (9 November)
Kane Williamson’s men need to win their last group match against Sri Lanka. New Zealand will still have a chance if they lose to Lanka, but do not take a big hit to their net run rate (NRR). In such a scenario, they will need Pakistan and Afghanistan to win their last matches, but not by a big margin, allowing the Black Caps to go through on NRR.
Pakistan (8 points)
Remaining fixture: England (11 November)
Pakistan is back in contention after two back-to-back wins with a match to go against the tournament’s bottom-placed team. However, their qualification for the semi-final is once again dependent not only on other results but also on the margin of those results.
Babar Azam’s men need to win against England and hope that New Zealand and Afghanistan lose. A loss to England will all but confirm Pakistan’s exit.
The 1992 champions can also qualify on NRR if:
New Zealand beat Sri Lanka by a slim margin and Pakistan beat England by 130 runs or more
The match between New Zealand and Sri Lanka is washed out as rain is forecast over the next few days in Bengaluru, and Afghanistan beat South Africa but do not improve their NRR by a large margin
Afghanistan (8 points)
Remaining fixture: South Africa (10 November)
Afghanistan had a wonderful opportunity to put one foot in the semi-finals after posting an impressive total against Australia, but the loss leaves them facing an uphill task and the risk of missing out on the semi-finals should they fail to beat the Proteas on Friday.
Should the brave hearts win one match and finish on 10 points, they can qualify for the semi-finals if Sri Lanka beat New Zealand and England beat Pakistan. In case New Zealand and Pakistan win their respective matches, Afghanistan will be knocked out despite being level on points owing to their much poorer net run rate.