ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 – scenarios – New Zealand and Pakistan’s chances of qualifying for semi-finals

Four teams will finish with 12 or more points – what do their individual chances look like?

S Rajesh

Pakistan bounced back with wins over Bangladesh and New Zealand ICC/Getty Images

England has been eliminated, South Africa has qualified for the semi-finals, while the fight for the last two semi-finals slots is mostly between four teams. Here’s how the qualifying scenarios look for other teams.

Played: 7, Pts: 10, NRR: 0.924
Remaining matches: vs Afg, Ban

Two points after the win over England means Australia are well placed to seal a third semi-final spot and finish in the top three. They can confirm both if they beat Afghanistan in Mumbai on Tuesday – which will ensure Afghanistan can only finish with a maximum of 10 points, which is also the ceiling for New Zealand and Pakistan.

Even if they lose to Afghanistan, they can still finish in the top three if they beat Bangladesh in their last match. For Afghanistan to overtake them, they not only need to win both their matches, but also surpass Australia’s net run rate. Currently, the gap there is huge – Australia are sitting pretty at 0.924 compared to Afghanistan’s -0.330.

If Australia loses to Afghanistan and Bangladesh, it may drop in net run rates. Three teams – Australia, New Zealand and Pakistan – could fight for a spot if Afghanistan beat South Africa and if New Zealand and Pakistan win their final matches. If Afghanistan loses, then four teams with 10 points can fight for two spots. Even there, Australia’s healthy NRR should make them favorites to qualify.

If New Zealand and Pakistan lose their last matches, Australia will qualify with 10 points even if they lose the last two.

New Zealand
Played: 8, Pts: 8, NRR: 0.398
The remaining match: vs SL

Four losses in their last four matches leaves New Zealand with a lot to do to secure a semi-final spot. Even if they win their last game, they could miss out if Australia beat Bangladesh and Afghanistan win their last two – if all these results happen, four teams will finish with 12 or more points.

New Zealand’s best case is for them to beat Sri Lanka, for Afghanistan to lose their last two, and for England to beat Pakistan. Then they can pass 10 points without NRR entering.

If New Zealand and Pakistan win their last games, and if Afghanistan also win a match, it could come down to the net run rate of the three teams. Currently New Zealand have the stronger NRR, and although they beat Sri Lanka by just one run scoring 300, Pakistan need to beat England by 130 (with the same total) to overtake them.

With rain forecasted throughout the week in Bengaluru, there is also a possibility that New Zealand’s final match will be washed out; if that happens, they will only finish with nine points, and they will hope that Pakistan and Afghanistan lose their remaining matches and stay in the eight.

Afghanistan is one of the teams to finish with 12 points AFP/Getty Images

Played: 7, Pts: 8, NRR: -0.330
Remaining matches: vs Aus, SA

If Afghanistan can win their last two games they will surely qualify, as they are one of only four teams to finish with 12 or more points. The problem for them is that their two opponents are Australia and South Africa, among the best teams in the tournament so far. Another problem for them is their NRR of -0.330, which is the worst of the teams they can fight for a place in the semi-finals.

Their best chance of qualifying is if Pakistan and New Zealand lose their final league matches and remain on eight points. Then, even a win would be enough for them to qualify, without bringing the run rates down.

Played: 8, Pts: 8, NRR: 0.036
The remaining matches: vs Eng

After seemingly being out of the semi-final race, Pakistan have bounced back with wins over Bangladesh and New Zealand, and now have a shot at a top-four finish. However, for that to happen, they still have to rely on other results, even if they beat England in their last game. For example, even with 10 points, Pakistan can finish outside the top four if New Zealand beats Sri Lanka and finishes with a better NRR, and if Australia wins one of their last two. Afghanistan can also play spoilsport if they win their last two.

The best case scenario in Pakistan’s case is for them to beat England, for Sri Lanka to beat New Zealand, and for Afghanistan to lose their last two matches. Then, they will qualify without NRR entering.

As mentioned above, if New Zealand beat Sri Lanka even by a small margin, Pakistan will have to win their last game easily to overtake them in the NRR. The advantage for Pakistan is that they will be playing the penultimate game in the league stage, so they will know what they need to do to qualify.

Sri Lanka
Played: 7, Pts: 4, NRR: -1.162
Remaining matches: vs Ban, NZ

Played: 7, Pts: 4, NRR: -1.398
Remaining matches: vs Eng, Ind

Both Sri Lanka and the Netherlands are in a similar position – their net run rate is poor, and they can get a maximum of eight points. With three teams already in more than eight, their only chance is for the other teams – New Zealand, Pakistan and Afghanistan – to lose all their remaining matches and remain in the eight. Then, either or both of these teams can also finish in the eight by winning their last two matches, and the NRR will decide which team goes through.

However, given their terrible NRRs, that is only a mathematical possibility.

S Rajesh is the stats editor at ESPNcricinfo. @rajeshstats

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