Nicholas Pooran’s brilliant 118 went in vain as Sri Lanka edged West Indies by 23 runs in a dead rubber at Chester-le-Street.
Sri Lanka, who have already bowed out of the semi-final race, moved to number 6 on the points table.
India clash with Bangladesh in Birmingham on Tuesday, the 2nd of July and are a win away from a semi-final spot.
England defeated India at the same venue (Birmingham) on Sunday and kept their hopes alive of making the top 4.
England’s victory had ensured that Sri Lanka were out of the World Cup.
With Australia through to the knockouts and India almost ensured of a semi-final spot, the fight is between England, New Zealand, Pakistan and Bangladesh for the remaining two spots.
Let us have a look at the most realistic and some unrealistic scenarios.
India Should Still Finish in Top Two
With 7 wins from 8 matches, Australia are perched at the top with 14 points having already qualified for the knockouts – which is a great result for a team who had their worst year in 2018 (in terms of win-loss ratio) in ODI cricket.
Australia have now won 15 of their last 16 ODIs and are guaranteed of a top two finish in the group stages.
India, in spite of the loss to England, have 5 wins from 7 matches (one washout) and are in a comfortable number two position with 11 points.
A win against Bangladesh or Sri Lanka will secure them a semi-final berth.
If they win both the matches they will end with 15 points and be guaranteed a top two finish.
New Zealand In a Tricky Situation
New Zealand are in third-place with 5 wins from 8 matches despite losing two matches in a row to Pakistan and Australia.
They need to beat England to be certain of making the last 4.
If England beat New Zealand, they end with 12 points. New Zealand remain on 11 and one of Pakistan or Bangladesh can equal them on points. The equation is more difficult for Bangladesh as they need to beat both India and Pakistan.
If New Zealand suffer a significant loss and Pakistan beat Bangladesh by a big margin, there is a strong likelihood that Pakistan might edge New Zealand out on net run rate – this is a realistic scenario.
England A Win Away from Semi-Finals and A Loss Away from Ouster
England’s magnificent win over India means that their clash with New Zealand is a potential Quarter-Final.
If they win, they end with 12 points and secure a semi-final spot.
If they lose, they would then hope that Bangladesh beat Pakistan and in turn lose to India. But if Pakistan wins in this scenario, England will be knocked out of the tournament.
The Dark Horse: Can Pakistan do a 1992?
There is an unreal similarity between Pakistan’s journey to the knockouts in the 1992 World Cup and their remarkable fightback in this World Cup.
Their wins over South Africa, New Zealand and Afghanistan mean that they are now at number 5 with 9 points from 8 matches. Pakistan have a very real chance of finishing with 11 points with just one game remaining against Bangladesh.
They would then hope that England do not win against New Zealand. In such a case, Pakistan qualify for the semi-finals.
However, if England do beat New Zealand, then Pakistan would hope that it is by a big margin – which would ensure that New Zealand’s net run rate would drop. In such a scenario Pakistan will need to beat Bangladesh by a huge margin to qualify.
Difficult for Bangladesh
Bangladesh have 3 wins from 7 matches. Their batting, led by Shakib-Al-Hasan, has been a revelation. They have two difficult matches to end their group stage campaign – with India and a resurgent Pakistan. If they win both their remaining matches, Bangladesh will end with 11 points and then hope that England are beaten by New Zealand.
In such a case Bangladesh will qualify for the semi-finals.
However, if England beat New Zealand then the latter has to lose by a huge margin so that their net run rate goes down. In this case if Bangladesh thrash Pakistan and India they can pip New Zealand on net run rate and go through the semi-finals.
Sri Lanka Ousted and the Bottom Three
England’s win ensured that Sri Lanka cannot qualify for the semi-finals and their World Cup campaign had ended.
But still a win over West Indies would be a good morale booster for the Lankans who moved to number 6 on the points table.
South Africa got a consolation win against Sri Lanka at Chester-le-Street on the 28th of June after their horrendous World Cup 2019 campaign came to an end (with their loss to Pakistan). They find themselves languishing at number 8 in the points table with 5 losses from 8 matches.
West Indies have lost 6 of their 8 matches and after promising much after their opening-match win against Pakistan, have completely fizzled out. They are languishing at number 9 on the points table.
Afghanistan have lost 8 out of 8 and have already been eliminated from the World Cup.
Going by form and momentum in the tournament and overall strength and weakness of a team, these seem to be the most plausible top 4 after the group stages:
1. Australia (beat South Africa to end with 16 points)
2. India (beat Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and end with 15 points)
3. England (beat New Zealand to end with 12 points)
4. New Zealand (lose to England to end with 11 points but have a higher NRR than Pakistan)
This means the following two potential semi-finals:
India vs England & Australia vs New Zealand.