Jul 15, 2024

World Cup: After Kiwis loss to South Africa, why New Zealand vs Pakistan on Saturday becomes important

New Zealand’s third successive loss – this time to South Africa – has given their next game added significance. The Kiwis, who were on top of the points table 10 days ago, next face Pakistan, who kept themselves in the race to the semifinal by hammering hapless Bangladesh.

Babar Azam’s men need to win their last two league games – they face holders England in their last fixture – and will be in contention even if New Zealand beat Sri Lanka in their last match. That scenario should still favour the Black Caps, provided they don’t lose too badly to Pakistan. But there are other teams who have not given up hope of reaching the semifinals.

As of now, only one thing is certain: Bangladesh is out of semifinal contention. All other teams are mathematically still in contention.

India and South Africa can count themselves in the semifinals, even though it can’t be officially confirmed as of now. Australia, on a four-match winning streak, are favourites for a slot with matches against England, Afghanistan and Bangladesh to come.

Afghanistan, who have beaten Pakistan and Sri Lanka, next face the Netherlands, who wouldn’t have given up on their semifinal hopes either. But the Afghans’ last two games are against Australia and South Africa, tough assignments on paper. The Dutch face England and India in their last two games, and given the turmoil the holders find themselves in, may fancy their chances.

Defeat to Australia on Saturday will officially end England’s chances, but even a win may not be enough to keep them alive for long.

Sri Lanka effectively need to win all three of their games – starting against India in Mumbai on Thursday – to remain in the reckoning.

 

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