World Cup: The race to the World Cup semifinals has got way bigger as the teams are now in the final week of the group stage. India and South Africa have booked their places in the last with the hosts guaranteed of a top finish after eight wins in a row. The Proteas are second-best with six wins in 8 games and are the second team to reach the final four. However, there are still two spots wide open for teams to sneak through with as many as five sides eyeing to grab them.
While, the two sides have booked their places in the semis, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and England are the ones officially eliminated. However, Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Netherlands are still in it with the first four being in serious contention for a place.
Australia are favourite to take one of those places as they have 10 points in 7 matches but have to stand tall from the Afghan challenge. Meanwhile, there looks a realistic fight between New Zealand and Pakistan for the one final spot in the semis but this can go awry as they both can still fail to qualify even if they win their remaining game each.
How can Pakistan and New Zealand both fail to reach semis?
New Zealand and Pakistan are tied on 8 points in 8 games but the Kiwis are placed higher on fourth due to their superior Net run rate (NRR) than the Green shirts. New Zealand will now face Sri Lanka, while the Men in Green will be up against England in their last games. A win would more or less ensure them a place in the top four but it could still oust both of the sides even if they reach 10 points. Here’s how.
Scenario #1: Afghanistan, Australia win
If the sixth-placed Afghanistan win both of their matches, they will be on 12 points and automatically qualify for the semis. This means Australia, who are Afghanistan’s next opponents, can win a maximum of one game. They are currently in third with 10 points in 7 games and can reach 12 if they beat Bangladesh. This way, Pakistan and New Zealand will crash out even if they win their games.
Scenario #2: Afghanistan win one, Aussies no matter what
The second scenario is that if Afghanistan win one of their remaining games, they and Australia can keep Pakistan and New Zealand out. One win will bring Afghanistan to 10 points, the maximum that the two sides in question can reach. However, it will then come down to NRR, which the Afghans currently lack in comparison to both New Zealand and Pakistan. With an NRR of -0.330, Afghanistan would need a big win against one of their last two opponents – Australia and South Africa to go past Pakistan and New Zealand’s current NRR of +0.036 and +0.398, respectively. The Aussies already have 10 points and their current NRR of +0.924 can pip the two sides.
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