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World Cup 2019: How is the race for semi-finals shaping up?

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The ICC World Cup 2019 has passed the half-way stage mark and there are eight teams in fray for the semi-finals. Thanks to Sri Lanka’s famous victory against England on Friday that made this tournament look alive. Two sides, South Africa and Afghanistan have been knocked out. The Proteas’ loss to Pakistan at Lord’s was the final nail in the coffin. But can they be party spoilers in the remaining league games? That will be quite an interesting tale.
This has been a fascinating World Cup so far and things at the present moment look much better with the sun out and gentle breeze welcoming both the cricketers and the fans. After the early spell of rain trouble, the key to something interesting has surely livened up this stage.
Most importantly, there are some big games on the way and these marquee clashes could well decide many things. So far in World Cup 2019, two teams are still unbeaten – India and New Zealand. The latter tops the 10-team table at the moment. India’s more comfort round of matches coming up make things pretty gullible for them at least on paper.
New Zealand England and Australia have blockbuster moments coming up. Also, one shouldn’t rule out the Asian trio of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. These three nations could yet spring a surprise. What about the West Indies? It’s a lot sticky for them at the moment and things look out of control for Jason Holder’s side.
Pakistan’s win against SA made things tight in that mid-table positions. One point separates three teams. Here we analyse how the race is shaping up for the 2019 World Cup semi-finals.

What’s in store for mighty England?

Root versus Afghanistan
Joe Root plays a shot against Afghanistan in CWC 19 (Image: Twitter @ICC)

The English were going strong, but a sudden loss against Lanka have somehow put them in a tight spot. They are likely to still qualify given the array of match-winners. But it’s a busy and important road ahead for the English. Eoin Morgan’s side is currently on fourth place with eight points from six games.
Their next three matches are against Australia, India and New Zealand. As noted earlier that both India and NZ are unbeaten so far and are the biggest threats. Tuesday’s encounter against high-flying Aussies could be perhaps the most important of them all. The England side needs to take one game at a time and the players will need to produce their best game in front of packed houses.
The math is simple for England. They need to win two games. Do they go in as favourites against these three? Well, you cannot be tilting to one side at the moment. It’s 50-50 at best. If England win one, then they can still make it. But they will need other results going in their favour. Winning all three might see them finishing in top two.

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Things could be comforting for India

Rohit hits ton
Rohit Sharma could be India’s main weapon in the race for semis. (Image: Twitter @ICC)

The Indian cricket team has won four games so far with the match against New Zealand getting washed out. The Virat Kohli-led side has four matches to go. Next is a clash against depleted West Indies on June 27. Then there is the blockbuster match against England three days later. Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are the other two sides awaiting the Men in Blue.
The road to the semis for India looks almost certain. Two victories will guarantee them a spot in the semis. Interestingly, three victories will assure them a spot in the top two based on net-run-rate (NRR). All four wins could even assure them top place.
By chance if India lose all the remaining games, then they will hope that the likes of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan don’t win more than one game each. But going by what we have seen and the bowling India have under their belt, this should be an easy ride to the last four. The match against England is perhaps the most soughed out at there.

Australia and New Zealand need to keep momentum

West Indies
Australia and New Zealand have an interesting phase ahead (Credits: India Today)

Both these sides have been terrific so far in the 2019 World Cup. New Zealand lead the standings with 11 points in their bag. Whereas, Aussies are second with 10. Both the challengers have three matches to go in CWC 19. What makes the two teams look so strong is the quality bowling. There are plenty of superstars out there.
Australia and New Zealand have to play each other. Now this makes things pretty interesting. Not just that, the two are also up against England. So both teams have two crucial matches at least on offer. The pendulum could swing either way. One breather for NZ is that their next clash is against inconsistent Pakistan. So a win in that game will ensure them a top four place.
The thing isn’t just about the top four is it? Both sides will want to finish as high as possible. Australia need to win at least one more game to seal top four. They will target a win against the hapless South African outfit. If both these sides lose against England and the other matches (South Africa and Pakistan respectively), then things could come down to winner takes it all between them.

What about Pakistan, Lanka and Bangladesh?

The math for Pakistan looks simple – win the remaining games. They have pulled one win against SA. Now the big challenge lies against New Zealand next. A defeat could well scamper their campaign. A win will make the side believe. Their remains two games are against Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Things could be promising there as well.
Lanka are on fifth place at the moment and have three games left. If Dimuth Karunaratne’s side wins all their remaining games, they should qualify for the semis. However, if they win two games, then will have to hope that England lose all their matches. Also asian rivals Bangladesh should not win more than two and Pakistan lose at least one. A pretty sticky surface this.
Bangladesh are up against the Afghans next. That will be followed by clashes against India and Pakistan. It’s a sort of Asia Cup for the Tigers. If they manage to win all their remaining matches, then the side will end with 11 points. But NRR will have a major say. They also need Sri Lanka to lose all their remaining matches, besides seeking two losses for the English.

Do Windies have a slight chance?

The West Indies needed to beat New Zealand, but they somehow missed it by a narrow margin. Windies need to win all their remaining three matches in the 2019 World Cup and then hope other outside factors go in favour of them.
Holder’s side will hope that England face defeat in all their matches. Also, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka shouldn’t win more than one each. They also need Pakistan to lose at least two. Going by the performances, it looks like Windies’ campaign could well be over in the coming week. Unless, some magic spell beckons the 2019 World Cup.

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