Fact Check: Is There Any Chance Of An India-Pak Semifinal In ODI World Cup?
Mumbai: The final round of matches in the marathon league stage of the ODI World Cup is underway.
Three of the four semifinalists have already been identified, and it’s certain that Team India will finish as the No. 1 team among 10 teams in the round-robin league.
It’s also known that Australia and South Africa will face off in the first semifinal by finishing second and third, or third and second, depending on the results of their respective last games.
But who will be India’s opponent in the second semifinal?
Is there still a possibility of a blockbuster India versus Pakistan clash?
Well, mathematically Pakistan are still in the running for the fourth semifinalist’s slot. But New Zealand are the strong favourites and miles ahead, having finished their league engagements with 10 points and a net run-rate (NRR) of +0.743.
Pakistan can catch up with New Zealand on 10 points, if they beat England at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens on Saturday. However, Pakistan’s comparatively poor NRR is a massive disadvantage.
Babar Azam’s men, with 8 points, currently have a NRR of +0.036. To topple New Zealand’s NRR, the men in green will have to completely demolish England.
For example, if Pakistan bat first, they have to win by a margin of 300-plus runs — which has happened just twice in the 48-year history of the competition. Both those instances were in the ongoing World Cup, with Australia thrashing The Netherlands by 309 runs and India mauling Sri Lanka by 302 runs.
Can lightning strike thrice in one edition of the ODI World Cup?
Cricket-crazy Kolkatans will surely hope so, as the will get to see India’s semifinal at the Eden Gardens only if Pakistan qualify.
If, on the other hand, Pakistan have to bowl first, they will need to skittle out England for a double-digit total and then reach the target in around 5 overs.
Defending champions England have been in pathetic form, losing 6 of their 8 matches so far. But they will be playing for pride and looking to finish in the top 8 so that they don’t miss out on automatic qualification for the 2025 Champions Trophy.
Pakistan thus need a miracle to fulfil their hopes of pinching a semifinal berth.
Babar’s army will take inspiration from the miracle scripted by Glenn Maxwell the other night at Delhi. Literally on one leg due to severe cramps, Mad Max, as they call him, almost single-handedly carried Australia from 91/7 to the victory target of 292 against Afghanistan with arguably the most stunning ODI knock of all times.