7 teams fighting for 3 semifinal berths


Pallab Bhattacharya

As the final stage of the qualification round of the World Cup cricket competition nears the end in the run up to semifinals, Australia’s victory over England and Pakistan’s win against New Zealand have infused the tournament with a new life. The defeat suffered by England against the Aussies and New Zealand against Pakistan now means three semifinals berths are still open for seven teams. South Africa and Afghanistan have already bowed out of the tournament.

Bangladesh, having collected seven points from as many matches so far, are very much in with a realistic chance of entering the semifinals if they win their next two matches against India on July 2 and Pakistan on July 5. Australia became the first team to book a last four slot with a tally of 12 points from seven matches so far that find them topping the points table. India and New Zealand are more comfortably placed as of now than the rest of the teams to reach the semifinal. The prospects of Pakistan have brightened along with Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

India, who have two matches less than Australia and six other teams, need to win two of their remaining four matches to ensure their semifinal qualification. If India beat West Indies at Old Trafford, Manchester, on Thursday, they will be on the brink of semifinal with eleven points. The six-wicket defeat against Pakistan notwithstanding, New Zealand have 11 points from seven matches and are placed second in the points table and are on the verge of semifinal qualification. They take on Australia and England in their last two matches.

With eight points from seven matches, England are in a precarious condition and they must win against India and New Zealand in their next two outings to enter the last four. That scenario puts extra pressure on the hosts. However, that pressure may ease somewhat if Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka fail in their forthcoming fixtures and England may make it to the semifinals with just one more victory.

For Sri Lanka, who have six points from six matches, the next three matches are a must-win need to qualify for semifinals. But if England lose one of their last two qualifying group matches and Bangladesh one that is likely to allow the Lankans to sail through. Pakistan have moved to the sixth position in the points table with seven points after their win against New Zealand and they have to beat Bangladesh (on July 5) and Afghanistan (on June 29) to take their points to 11 in order to stand a chance to reach the semifinals.

West Indies, with three points from six matches, are all but out of reckoning for a semifinal berth with only a theoretical possibility as they play India, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. If points are same for some teams, the number of wins, net run rate and the record of head-to-head clash between them will be counted to decide who will qualify for the semifinals.