In terms of quality, this hasn’t been the best World Cup tournament. However, if there is one consolation, it has been the fact that the race for the first four spots in both the groups is still on. The intrigue factor is more in Group B as opposed to Group A considering the fact that it is the more balanced of the two. While South Africa have qualified following their polished win against Ireland, the same cannot be said about the others. India, West Indies, Bangladesh and England are keenly battling it out for the other three spots. It has been a highly intriguing group with no continuity when it comes to results. Picture this: India beat Bangladesh and tied with England but Bangladesh beat England. Further, England beat South Africa and the latter got the better of Indians. Similarly, India beat Ireland but the Irish managed to chase down England. The topsy turvy results mean South Africa apart no other team is guaranteed of a quarter final berth as such.
West Indies, who have been consistent if one doesn’t count their performance against the Proteas, have two games left and will make it through if they win one of the games since they have a superior run-rate and also the fact that the others have just a single game to play in the knockout round. India can still make it through if they lose to West Indies, but for that they will have to depend on the other teams. If India lose to the Windies and England beat them, then both and England will be on seven points each and then it will all come down to the net run-rate between the two. India have a better one so far, but one game can change it all so they have to be cautious.
The bad news for England is that they could be out even if they beat West Indies, that is if Bangladesh can upset the South African applecart. It will be a tough ask for the upcoming Asian side. But, they would be buoyed by the fact that they will be playing at home. Also, they have history on their side, having beaten the Proteas on a sluggish pitch in the Caribbean four years back. And so, they would consider themselves to be in with a real chance. Even West indies can get knocked out if they lose both their matches and Bangladesh beat South Africa. Conversely, if Windies remain on six points and Bangladesh lose to South Africa, they will also end up with six points. In such a scenario, the Caribbean side has a better chance of going through taking into consideration their superior run-rate unless something drastic occurs in the next two games.
Shifting focus to the other group, a different battle is being played out there – that of who will top the group, with Zimbabwe, Canada and Kenya already knocked out. That leaves New Zealand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Australia in contention for grabbing the numero uno slot. The Aussies have two games left against Canada and Pakistan and would be confident of toppling both unless the latter can come up with something sensational. If Pakistan manages to upset Australia and New Zealand get the better of Sri Lanka, both the teams would be tied on 10 points each and the net run-rate would then decide the group topper, and the Kiwis would fancy their chances then. Conversely, if Sri Lanka beat New Zealand and the Aussies lose to Canada in the rarest of rare cases and beat Pakistan, both teams would move to the top of the table with 9 points each and, once again, the run rate would come into equation.
All in all, there are intriguing little battles being played out as teams heads towards the bigger wars.