With only 2 weeks left for this World Cup to end, things are still not completely tied up when it comes to knockout stages. Only Australia has been confirmed of a semifinal spot while the rest of the nations are still battling out for the remaining 3 spots. The race for the semi-final spots is now heating up. There were 7 teams at the start of the tournament looking realistically to seal a spot, but things are a little different now.
This says a lot about the kind of competition and the tournament that we have witnessed so far.
Well, let me go back a bit and give you a little bit of trivia and preview of how this tournament has been shaping up so far and what are the semifinal chances of the remaining 9 teams.
World Cup 2019
This is the 12th edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup and is being hosted by England & Wales and it is the fifth time that they have hosted it with previous editions being 1975,1979,1983,1999. This is the first World Cup since 1992 to use the round robin format which means there are no multiple groups and that each team has to face the other at least 1 time before the top 4 teams out of the single group (on the basis of the most points won) can then go on to play the semifinals.
This is also the first World Cup to feature no Associate teams as none of the ICC Associate Member teams made it through the qualifying tournament.
With almost 4 weeks of group stage matches already played, Only 1 team out of the 10 teams have been slotted in the semifinal spot so that leaves 3 spots and 9 teams. But Afghanistan, West Indie & South Africa are already out so the real fight is between 6 teams namely India, England, Pakistan, New Zealand, Sri Lanka & Bangladesh.
The last group match would be played on 6th July before the knockout stages begin from 9th July onwards.
The Race is on
This World Cup will go down as one of the most entertaining and closely fought tournaments in recent memory especially after a dull and dour 2015 World Cup. Unlike the previous World Cup, this tournament is not all about double hundreds, big scores and big hitting, but it is more of an even contest between bat and ball. Although there have been big scores in this tournament and in most matches you are seeing teams posting 300+ totals but in today’s day and age when 300 is the modern-day version of 250 runs that teams used to put back in the day and how easily teams are chasing 350+ scores, it would be fair to say that it’s more of an even contest in this World Cup where a team like England who holds the records for the highest team score in ODI history of 481 is failing to chase 232 vs Sri Lanka in this tournament.
How pre-tournament favorites like England and New Zealand might not even go to the semifinals and how Pakistan can emulate their 1992 heroics or maybe a ‘minnow’ like Bangladesh that can qualify for the knockout stage, this tournament sure is getting interesting and unpredictable every match day.
So now let’s analyze the chances of the 3 teams that can book the remaining semifinal spots.
- India – With 11 points from the first six games and a vastly superior net run rate, India is also more or less through. In order to secure their place, India needs to win just one more point and they’d love their opportunities with matches remaining against Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and England. It is reasonable to believe that India are as good as through to the knock-out stages of the World Cup.
- England- Oh! How the mighty have fallen! Although nothing is lost for them at the moment and they are all but likely to go through to the next round if they win their remaining matches, but a title contender and favorite like England struggling to qualify for the semifinals was something not even the harshest of their critics predicted. They are currently 4th on the table with 8 points from 7 matches and as I said will go through if they win both their remaining matches. But the real problem is that both their remaining matches are with heavyweights India and New Zealand. And a team struggling with injuries and bad form that is a herculean task and they certainly wouldn’t want to disappoint the home fans considering they are the hosts.
- New Zealand- Another case like England? Well not exactly. They were one of the two unbeaten teams remaining in the competition (the other one being India, who are still unbeaten). But there could be a possibility that if they don’t win their remaining matches than they might not qualify who like England were deemed favorites. But barring a major upset happening, I see them qualifying to the next round.
- Pakistan- The team chasing destiny! With the way they have played in this tournament, one thing is confirmed that they are surely the most unpredictable Cricket playing nation in history. From being down and out after the game vs India and written off from the tournament to making a comeback and clawing their way back in the semifinal picture is surely commendable. Since their demoralizing defeat to India, they have made a strong comeback and have defeated South Africa and unbeaten New Zealand (at that point) in a comprehensive fashion. They have two relative ‘easy’ fixtures in Bangladesh and Afghanistan and should they win both, they will qualify for the semifinals.
- Bangladesh- Bangladesh currently has seven points out of as many games, with all likelihood that they need to win both of their matches to go through to the last four and that may not be enough. The Tigers can afford to lose to India, but if they lose to Pakistan they’re out.
- Sri Lanka- After their recent loss to South Africa they have the slimmest of chances of all the 6 teams to go through. They must win both their games (India and West Indies) and hope that England loses both their matches and Pakistan and Bangladesh win one match.
Mathematically only Afghanistan, West Indies, and South Africa are out but these teams can still play a big role in deciding the fate of the other 6 teams and their chances of going through the next stage. And this makes this tournament all the more interesting and exciting for the next couple of weeks to come with everything on the line and all to play for.