World Cup qualification scenarios: New Zealand put Pakistan, Afghanistan on brink of elimination

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New Zealand won by a big margin over Sri Lanka to take a giant stride towards a semifinal spot
New Zealand won by a big margin over Sri Lanka to take a giant stride towards a semifinal spot © AFP

New Zealand put themselves in the best position for a semifinal clash against India at the Wankhede stadium on November 15 after an NRR-boosting victory over Sri Lanka in Bengaluru on Thursday. The day began with the fourth spot still up for grabs and a three-way tussle between New Zealand, Pakistan and Afghanistan. New Zealand went into the game with the upper hand owing to a superior NRR and further enhanced it by dismissing Sri Lanka for just 171 and chasing it down in the 25th over.

A win for Pakistan over England in their last group stage game on Saturday (November 11) will take them on par with New Zealand on points but the task of usurping their NRR looks nearly impossible. As it stands, New Zealand's NRR is +0.743 while Pakistan have +0.036.

For Pakistan to overcome that big a deficit, they need to:

- Limit England to 13 if they score 300 batting first.

- Limit England to 62 if they score 350.

- Limit England to 112 if they score 400.

Coincidentally, Pakistan find themselves in a very similar situation ahead of their last group stage game in this World Cup as they did in the 2019 edition. Back then too, they needed a win by an unimaginable margin - of 300-plus runs - to overtake fourth-placed New Zealand on NRR. They batted first and only got to 315 for 9, needing to limit Bangladesh to seven runs. The chasing side got to 8/0 in 1.5 overs.

The requirement for Afghanistan is even worse. Hashmatullah Shahidi's side is sixth currently with a NRR of -0.338. Until two nights ago, they had their fate in their hands as two wins in their last two fixtures would have taken them past both New Zealand and Pakistan to fourth spot.

They were on track during the game against Australia when they had them down to 91/7 in chase of 291/5, but Glenn Maxwell denied them with an incredible double-century. For them to still make it to fourth, Afghanistan need to beat South Africa on Friday by 439 runs (if they score 500 batting first) to surpass New Zealand's NRR.




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