As the ICC ODI World Cup 2023 enters its crucial stage, the race for India’s semifinal opponent has taken an intriguing turn, with Australia’s sensational victory sealing their spot in the last four. While India remains the hot favourite, New Zealand, Pakistan, and Afghanistan are locked in a tight battle to secure the coveted semifinal spot. The scenario is delicately balanced, and the net run rate could be the deciding factor.
New Zealand, Pakistan, and Afghanistan currently sit on eight points each, and it’s their net run rates that will ultimately determine the fourth semifinalist. Among the three contenders, New Zealand holds the highest net run rate, with an NRR of 0.398, giving them an edge in the race.
The Kiwis are set to face struggling Sri Lanka in their last group match at Bengaluru, and a convincing win with a substantial margin will be crucial for their chances. However, their late struggle, characterized by four consecutive losses and a dip in their bowling performance, has added an element of uncertainty to their journey.
The situation becomes even more intriguing when considering the possibility of an India-Pakistan semifinal clash at the iconic Eden Gardens. For this scenario to materialize, Pakistan needs to pull off a remarkable performance against England on Saturday. Led by Babar Azam, the Pakistan team is gradually finding its rhythm and will be looking to secure a big victory. Their advantage lies in playing after New Zealand and Afghanistan’s games, giving them a clear understanding of the required run rate.
Afghanistan, the tournament’s most improved team, showed their potential by giving Australia a tough challenge before eventually falling short. They face the title contenders South Africa in Ahmedabad on Friday. For Afghanistan to secure the fourth semifinal spot, they need a comprehensive victory over South Africa to surpass New Zealand and Pakistan’s net run rates.
While these three teams battle it out, there is also a mathematical probability scenario for the minnows, Netherlands. With 4 points in hand and two matches remaining, they could potentially reach eight points. The Dutch side has already produced stunning upsets by defeating South Africa and Bangladesh in the tournament.
The Netherlands will face England in Pune before clashing with table-toppers India in their final group match in Bengaluru on November 12. To qualify, they would need to produce two more massive upsets, which is a tall order. Additionally, they would hope that New Zealand, Pakistan, and Afghanistan lose their respective matches by significant margins.
The World Cup 2023 unpredictability has been on full display, and the race for the semifinal spot has become a thrilling storyline. With net run rates playing a crucial role, every run scored and every wicket taken will be scrutinized closely.