After a fairly slow start to the 2019 World Cup, which was significantly hampered by four wash-outs, the tournament picked pace last week.
Sri Lanka's shock win over England ripped open the World Cup. The result not only kept the Lankans alive, but also provided a lifeline to both, Pakistan and Bangladesh. England, however, face a tricky road to the semifinals, as the side faces India and New Zealand in their final two games of the tournament.
While India is still unbeaten in the tournament, New Zealand faced their first defeat of the 2019 World Cup only this Thursday. Interestingly, both the sides have yet not guaranteed a spot in the final four.
As we proceed into the final stages of the group fixtures, let's take a look at all the possibilities to reach the semifinals for the teams still in fray:
India are well-placed to finish at the top of the points table at the moment. The side registered a thumping victory over West Indies last night, and remains the sole unbeaten team in the tournament. With 11 points in six games, India can finish on a maximum of 17 points, which will guarantee them the top-spot.
However, should India lose all of their remaining games against England, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, India can face elimination. Considering their form, it is a highly unlikely scenario, though. India will need at least one more win from their remaining games to seal a spot in the semifinal. While England and Sri Lanka can achieve a maximum of 12 points, Bangladesh can record 11.
New Zealand made a bright start to the tournament but faced a stunning defeat to Pakistan earlier this week. The result gave Pakistan a much-needed boost in their campaign and gave the Kiwis a scare as they aimed for a flight to the top of the table.
New Zealand is currently on 11 points but have played a game more than India. However, the equation for the BlackCaps remains similar to India. They need to win only one game to qualify for the semifinals.
However, the Kiwis face England and Australia in their final two games, which could be tricky. Should New Zealand lose, they will hope for their NRR to save them. Their NRR is currently the third-highest in the table (+1.028).
The host-side looked the most dominant of all at the beginning of the tournament. However, an upset to Sri Lanka triggered a collapse for the side, which continued in their game against the arch-rivals, Australia. The pressure of playing the World Cup at home has surfaced, and England now find themselves in a tricky situation.
If the home side fails to win both of their games, they risk elimination from the World Cup. Pakistan looks a potent threat to the side, as do Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. All of the three could finish above England in such a scenario.
Even if England wins one of their games, they’ll still be in trouble. In this case, they remain on 10 points, which would still not be enough to secure qualification in the semifinal.
The only positive for England, at the moment, is their NRR – which is only bettered by India after their 125-run win over West Indies.
The ‘Tigers’ have certainly been a revelation in this edition of the World Cup. Bangladesh have posted a strong fight in every game they played, and registered convincing wins over teams like South Africa and West Indies. Shakib Al Hasan has been in top form since the beginning of the tournament, and Bangladesh would hope for the World No. 1 all-rounder to shine in the remaining two games.
Bangladesh face tricky oppositions up ahead – India and Pakistan. India’s bowling attack has arguably been the best in this tournament, and the side has defeated Bangladesh earlier in the warm-up game of the 2019 World Cup. Pakistan, meanwhile, face a similar situation to Bangladesh.
Moreover, the side will also have to bank upon the other results to go in their favour. Bangladesh can score a maximum of 11 points, and thus, will hope that Sri Lanka doesn’t win all of their remaining games, and England loses at least one.
The Sri Lankan side didn’t arrive with much expectation at the World Cup, but Lasith Malinga’s devastating spell against England ripped open the tournament for the side.
With three games remaining, Sri Lanka’s destiny lies in their own hands. Two of the three teams they’ll face are already knocked out of the tournament, with their final game against India. If Sri Lanka wins two games, they’ll hope for England to lose both of their games, and Pakistan to lose one.
The eerie similarities with Pakistan’s 1992 World Cup campaign may have been a refuge of hope for their fans, but if they stay consistent, Sarfaraz Ahmed’s men have a realistic chance of securing a semifinal berth.
The side will have to win both of their remaining games against Bangladesh and Afghanistan, and hope for England and Sri Lanka to lose a game each. Pakistan can score a maximum of 11 points, and their game against Bangladesh could a virtual knock-out if the results of the other matches go their way.