Pak emulate Lanka to stay alive

New Zealand’s thrilling five-run win on Saturday over West Indies at Old Trafford and Pakistan’s drubbing of South Africa at Lord’s on Sunday has all but ensured two things – the Kiwis, with 11 points from five games, have one foot in the semifinals while the Proteas, who remained on three points after seven matches, are out of the reckoning.

Sri Lanka’s shock win over favourites England had brought alive the World Cup which was moving in one direction with usual suspects progressing smoothly till then. While the Lankan win hasn’t brought in any drastic shuffle in the table, it has thrown up some interesting possibilities.

Had Afghanistan managed to pull off the upset they were threatening to against India, it would have given way to more probabilities. However, with India notching an 11-run win, they have come within touching distance of the knockouts having accumulated nine points from five matches. Australia are second with 10 points, but they have played an extra match as have New Zealand.

The loss to Lanka has suddenly left England in a slightly vulnerable position as they have three big teams lined up in their last three matches – Australia, India and table toppers New Zealand in that order. They need to win at least one to keep their hopes alive as two teams in the chasing pack can seriously dent their chances.  

Having met most of the top teams in the first half of the league, India’s position is a lot more secure. They next meet the dangerous Windies with only England posing them the biggest threat in their remaining four engagements. Bangladesh and Sri Lanka can be potential banana skins in their march but Virat Kohli’s men know their toughest league phase is over.

Among the top contenders, Australia are flying high with just one loss to India in six matches, but they will be wary of their upcoming matches. They clash with England on June 25 followed by Trans-Tasman rivals on June 29 and South Africa on July 6. With nothing to lose, the South Africans might just play party poopers. Aussies’ task is as tough as that of England’s.

Pakistan have once again done what was always expected of them – their win against South Africa helping them hang by the thinnest of threads. If they win the rest of their three matches, they will reach 11 points, more or less ensuring them a place in the last four. But that’s easier said than done. This Pakistan side doesn’t belong to Imran Khan’s class of 1992 when they went on to lift the World Cup from a similarly precarious position.                

Lanka, with six points now, have thrown their hat in the ring as well, but their path isn’t as easy. They need to win all their remaining three matches (against South Africa, West Indies and India) and hope that one of the current top four teams lose all its matches. With the number of wins being the first tie-breaker, in the event of teams being tied on points, Lankans are poorly placed at the moment with just two wins and as many washouts.

West Indies are virtually out at the moment as the Caribbeans can collect no more than nine points even if they were to win all their three matches. Bangladesh, on five points from as many matches, have an equally difficult task at hand.

 

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