Race for top-4 in ICC World Cup 2019
All the initial buzz of the World Cup was around hosts England who tormented Pakistan and even chased targets in the range of 350 with rather ease. A dangerous batting line-up backed by a potent bowling attack, made stronger with the addition of X-factor Jofra Archer made England one of the favourites for the World Cup. Then there was the ever-consistent Indian side in contention, the refurbished Aussie side with its talisman David Warner and Steve Smith back in the ranks. The fourth spot was left open in discussions with all of New Zealand, Pakistan and South Africa staking claim. As it panned out, the first half of the tournament was all about New Zealand, England, India and Australia.
Despite an odd brilliant showing by West Indies, Pakistan and Bangladesh, the World Cup seemed to be getting too predictable until England decided to add more spice to it. A loss to Pakistan, followed by back to back losses to Sri Lanka and Australia put England in a spot of bother.
Race for top-4 in ICC World Cup 2019: It all started when Pakistan turned up one fine day at the Trent Bridge. Pakistan put a mammoth total of 348 and England failed in their pursuit of the target despite 100’s from Joe Root and Jos Buttler. The early signs of World Cup pressure were evident. It worsened when Sri Lanka turned things around and caused an upset in Leeds. It was a memorable performance by a very dejected Sri Lankan side as their experienced players finally stepped up to the challenge and showed the way.
England were now jiffy and with their last three games against the top three sides- Australia, Indi and New Zealand, there were jitters. And when it seemed it couldn’t get worse for England, they were handed a drubbing at the hands of Australia while Pakistan put up two solid performances to trounce South Africa and the Kiwis to stake a strong claim for the fourth spot.
Pakistan isn’t the only side poking at England’s neck as Bangladesh with some fine performances, led by their star players Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim have managed to stay in the hunt.
Race for top-4 in ICC World Cup 2019: While Australia is the only team that has officially qualified for the semi-finals, India seem well and truly on their way there. Add New Zealand to the fray and the Oceania side is a point away from qualification but the route isn’t easy for them.
They have India and Australia up next, two of the best sides in the tournament. Two losses there would mean they no more have their fate in their hands and would need to depend on other results going their way, which essentially means either of England or Pakistan derailing their own campaign. Bangladesh could too pose an outside threat. The fourth spot, well, that’s what has got interest in this otherwise drab World Cup.
Race for top-4 in ICC World Cup 2019: Considering the fact that India needs only a points in 3 matches to qualify for the semi-finals and given their run, it looks very achievable, meaning that the 3rd and 4th position is up for grabs and still has 4 potential candidates- England, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh where England and Sri Lanka can reach up to 12 points while Pakistan and Bangladesh can garner 11 points.
The task is simple for England; they are currently at the 4th position with 8 points in 7 matches. They just need to win their remaining two games and they would be through given their NRR is best among the teams at 1.051.
If England manage just a win in their final two matches, they would need to hope neither of Sri Lanka, Pakistan or Bangladesh breach that 10-point mark or even if they do, they don’t get their courtesy of a huge win that shall boost their NRR.
The points table gets interesting though if they lose both their games. They will be stuck at 8 points and will be out of the tournament unless rain gods intervene and the Pakistan Bangladesh game is washed out.
#4 New Zealand
Race for top-4 in ICC World Cup 2019: The case for Pakistan is somewhat in their hands as they need to win their 2 remaining games to stake a claim for the coveted fourth spot, however, if England win both their games, Pakistan would fail to make it unless New Zealand loses both its games and Pakistan can better New Zealand’s NRR. However, one win might be enough for Pakistan if that comes against Bangladesh, hoping Bangladesh loses to India, England loses both their games and Sri Lanka win just one of their remaining 3 games.
The case for Bangladesh is pretty similar to that of Pakistan and with a better NRR that Pakistan, they can give that top 4 a real shout if they manage to win bot their games.
As for Sri Lanka, who are currently at 7th on the table, they need to win remaining three games, hoping England doesn’t win both their remaining games or New Zealand loses both its games.
As they say, the unpredictability of sport is what makes it so appealing and with 5 teams vying for 2 spots, it makes for a mouth-watering run in the next few days.
Afghanistan, South Africa and West Indies, though out of the tournament, can still have a big role to play to decide the top 4 spots. And as the Afghanistan skipper said “Hum to doobenge sanam, tumhe bhi le doobenge,” it surely is going to go down to the wire.
An interest 10 days await and we shall know who makes the cut.