The ODI Cricket World Cup 2023 is nearing it business end. While three teams – India, South Africa and Australia – have already entered the semi-finals, the fight for the fourth spot is between three teams – New Zealand, Pakistan and Afghanistan. All the three teams are on eight points from as many matches. New Zealand (NRR +0.398) are ahead on the basis of net run-rate followed by Pakistan (NRR +0.036) and Afghanistan (-0.338). New Zealand’s last match is against Sri Lanka in Bengaluru on Thursday, Pakistan last group stage game is against England in Kolkata on Saturday and Afghanistan’s last match is against South Africa in Ahmedabad on Friday. (World Cup points table)
If all three teams win their matches, the side with the best-run-rate will go through. However, New Zealand have another concern. There is rain prediction in Bengaluru on Friday. If the game against Sri Lanka gets washed out, they will have to be satisfied with just one point. In that case. Pakistan and Afghanistan just need to win their matches to have a hot at Cricket World Cup semi-finals. The team with the better run-rate will enter the Cricket World Cup semi-finals. Pakistan already has a much better run-rate than Afghanistan.
According to accuweather.com, there are chances of rain in Bengaluru throughout Thursday.
New Zealand’s campaign has hit a disheartening flatline after their early domination and the Kiwis will have to rediscover their bowling mojo for a World Cup reboot when they face knocked-out Sri Lanka here on Thursday. Ahead of their last league match which is under rain threat, New Zealand are hobbling on eight points, aware of the fact that a defeat or a washout can throw them out of the tournament.
They are now fourth on the table. Pakistan (+0.036) and Afghanistan (-0.338), who also have eight points apiece, can also potentially reach 10 points with a win over England and South Africa in their respective final league match. In that context, the Kiwis (+0.398) have to win sufficiently big to take care of the Net Run Rate as well.
So, it is not an all too bright scenario for New Zealand, but a victory will at least keep them in the race to the semifinals for the time being.
But it is not tough to see why New Zealand have faltered and ended up at where they are now.
Unlike backmarkers England, New Zealand’s batting has not really collapsed except against South Africa but their bowling lacked sting when it was needed.
The Kiwis made 400 against Pakistan at this venue but their bowlers continued the rudderless ways, leaking runs in plenty and left clueless against Fakhar Zaman‘s onslaught.
The Kiwis bowlers failed in critical thinking when the going was getting tough for them, and it was quite surprising to see even experienced bowlers like Trent Boult and Tim Southee operating without a Plan B.
Left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner has been a solace for them among the ruins, but the dangers of depending on Glenn Phillips‘ part-time off-spin was evident when Pakistan batters gave him a shellacking.
New Zealand bowlers have been simply unable to put pressure on opposition batters especially in the middle and end overs, and rectifying that area will be their priority going against the Lankans.
An underwhelming Sri Lanka might not have similar firepower as Pakistan but unless the New Zealand bowlers regroup quickly, the Islanders still can inflict some damage as they have efficient batters in Pathum Nissanka and Sadeera Samarawickrama.
With PTI inouts
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