New Zealand’s massive 190-run defeat against South Africa on Wednesday brought Babar Azam-led Pakistan back into contention for a semi-final spot at the World Cup 2023. While India, South Africa, and Australia are almost through to the semis, New Zealand and Pakistan may battle it out for the fourth position even though, on paper, Kiwis look like the obvious favourites to make it to the fourth spot on the points table.
New Zealand and Pakistan have played 7 games each, out of them Kiwis have won 4 and have 8 points while the Men in Green have won 3 and have gained 6 points.
To enter the semi-finals, Pakistan need to win both the remaining games and pray that New Zealand lose their two matches. Pakistan have one match against New Zealand and one against England. Besides Pakistan, New Zealand will square off with Sri Lanka on November 9.
Going by equations, if Pakistan win their two matches, they will have 10 points. In this scenario, the Men in Green would already have defeated the Black Caps. But if New Zealand win against Sri Lanka, they will also have 10 points but they may be through the top four based on run rate, which is currently higher than Pakistan’s.
After Wednesday’s clash, New Zealand’s run rate was +0.484 while Pakistan’s run rate stood at -0.024.
Mazher Arshad, a cricket statistician, said that to beat New Zealand’s net run rate, Pakistan need to win by approximately 83 runs or chase in approximately 35 overs against New Zealand. “But both teams will have one more game after that so there could be a new NRR scenario in the last group match.”
Discussion on permutations and combinations for Pakistan is growing on social media, with some hoping for the Men in Green to be back in the top four for an India vs Pakistan encounter. “India v Pakistan Semi in Kolkata anyone,” tweeted Michael Vaughan, former England captain, soon after the Proteas defeated the Kiwis in Pune.
Waqar Afridi, a biotechnologist and cricket lover, said that all the scenarios are possible but only Sri Lanka beating New Zealand looks difficult.
Equations aside, now all eyes will be on Pakistan vs New Zealand at Bengaluru’s M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Saturday when both teams will look to solidify their claim for the top four.
Owais said the World Cup has started becoming interesting since the chances of the Pakistan Cricket Team have once again re-lived for the semifinals. “Such is the unprecedented excitement level that Pakistan brings in the ICC tournaments and it can never be matched by any other team!”
Afghanistan, too, have a chance to enter the semifinal but for that, they have to win 2 of the remaining 3 games. This may look difficult as they have to face South Africa, Australia, and the Netherlands. While the Netherlands may look like underdogs on paper, they pulled off this tournament’s biggest upset when they defeated South Africa.
On Wednesday, South Africa crushed New Zealand by 190 runs in Pune. The Black Caps won the toss but decided to bowl. Riding on centuries from Rassie van der Dussen and Quinton de Kock, South Africa posted a mammoth total of 357 runs. The chase was never easy for the Kiwis as they kept losing wickets and got bundled out for just 167 runs in 35.3 overs, thanks to Keshav Maharaj’s 4/46 and Marco Jansen’s 3/31.