When the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup got underway on May 30, fans across the world were filled with some preconceived notions. Hosts England were the pre-tournament favourites - their best chance to finally win the World Cup, five-time champions Australia were to struggle, New Zealand were once again to be the dark horses, while India were the team to beat.
With 34 of the 48 matches done, India still remain the side to beat, having won five of their six matches so far (the other was washed away), but the same can’t be said about the other theories. After a fine start to their campaign, England find themselves in a spot of bother after two consecutive loses, while champions Australia once again look to have found the winning mojo and sit atop the points table having qualified for the semifinals.
While Afghanistan, South Africa and the West Indies have bowed out of the race for a place in the top-four, the same can’t be said about the other six sides. Here we take a look at all the possibilities as the World Cup moves into another exciting week of action from June 29.
Placed second on the points table with 11 points from six games, the Men in Blue require another victory to assure themselves of a place in the final four. They play the hosts on Sunday (July 30), and if Virat Kohli’s brigade can put one past the Eoin Morgan-led side, then they would become the second team to make it to the semis in this edition.
Their opponents for Sunday, England, however, find themselves in some trouble lately. After a fine start that saw them justify the favourites tag in the beginning, the Three Lions are somewhat on a downward spiral lately.
Losses to Sri Lanka and Australia in their last two matches mean, the hosts will need to win both their remaining two games (against India and New Zealand) to assure themselves of a place in the semis that get underway on July 9.
However, if they are to win a match, England will have to hope that Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan lose at least one of their remaining fixtures. In such an instance, the Lankans will end with a maximum of ten points, but England will pip them on the number of wins (yes, the number of wins carry more weightage than NRR) while Pakistan and Bangladesh can end up with a point less.
The English could still make it through if they are to lose to both India and New Zealand. It’s just that they will have to hope against hope that Lanka lose at least two of their three games, and both Pakistan and Bangladesh share a point in one of their respective matches and lose the other.
Unlike England, the Kiwis still have their fate in their own hands. A win in one of their two upcoming games should suffice to see them through.
For the Bangla Tigers to go through, they will have to win two upcoming games against India and Pakistan and hope that other results too go their way.
The Mashrafe Mortaza-led side can go through by winning just one of the two games too, provided England and Sri Lanka lose their remaining matches and Pakistan lose at least one and end with a NRR less than theirs.
The team led by Sarfaraz Ahmed too find themselves in a situation similar to that of Bangladesh. They need to ensure that they win both their remaining matches and hope that other results go their way as well. But if they end up winning just one, then England and Sri Lanka will have to lose their remaining fixtures and Bangladesh will have to end up with lesser points and an NRR negative to the Pakistanis.
They came into the World Cup as no hopers, but their spirited performance so far, especially against England, means Sri Lanka too are in the mix.
With three more matches to go, the Lankans would know any slip up now could prove to be fatal. But neither does victory in all their remaining three games assure them of a place in the semifinals. If they end up winning their games, England will have to lose at least one to ensure Lanka take the fourth spot and qualify for the semis. But if they are to lose even once from now on, their fate will depend on how Pakistan, England and Bangladesh fair.
Feature image courtesy: AFP Photo/ Dibyangshu Sarkar