Three teams, three days, one spot: The riveting battle for India's semifinal rival

01:46 PM Nov 08, 2023 | PTI |

Following Australia’s sensational victory on Tuesday night that sealed their last-four clash against South Africa, it will largely be a three-way battle among New Zealand, Pakistan and Afghanistan to identify hot-favourite India’s semifinal rival.


New Zealand, Pakistan and Afghanistan are on eight points each and are separated only by Net Run-Rate. The Kiwis, who face the struggling Sri Lanka in their last group match at Bengaluru on Thursday boast the highest NRR of 0.398 among the three teams.

The last edition’s runners-up need to win by a handsome margin and hope that Pakistan (0.036) and Afghanistan (-0.038) do not win.

The Black Caps’ late struggle — they have lost four matches in a row with poor bowling — and a rain forecast for their match in Bengaluru has added some more spice to the intriguing scenarios.

India-Pakistan semifinal at Eden?


An India-Pakistan semi-final clash on Thursday at Eden Gardens is still possible. For this to happen, Pakistan will have to play out of their skin against England here on Saturday.

The Babar Azam-led side, which is slowly getting its rhythm back, need to win big and will have the advantage of playing after New Zealand and Afghanistan’s game.

Afghanistan, the tournament’s most improved team had Australia on the mat before snatching defeat from an advantageous position, take on title-contenders South Africa in Ahmedabad on Friday.

So when Pakistan take on England at Kolkata on Saturday they will have the advantage of knowing the exact run-rate equation. For Afghanistan to qualify as the fourth team, they have to win against power-packed South Africa by a huge margin to eclipse the NRR of New Zealand and Pakistan.

But if New Zealand and Pakistan lose against Sri Lanka and England respectively, then just win against South Africa will do it for Afghanistan. Minnows Netherlands, who produced two stunning results defeating South Africa and Bangladesh in this tournament, also have have an outside chance in terms of mathematical probability.

They are on four points and, with two matches in hand, can go to eight points.

The Dutch take on England in Pune later in the day before clashing with table-toppers India in their concluding group league match in Bengaluru on November 12.

For them to make the cut, Dutch have to produce two more massive upsets so that they can improve their negative net run-rate (-1.504), which seems too unrealistic and also hope that New Zealand, Pakistan and Afghanistan lose their respective matches by significant margins.


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