ICC World Cup 2019: The tournament is heading into a thrilling last week
The first half of the ICC World Cup 2019 was dominated by the English weather. The clouds followed the teams wherever they went and there were many rain interruptions and as many as four washouts. This came as a surprise as it was assumed that it is the summer in England and it usually doesn't rain this much during this period, that too continuously.
Now, summer has finally arrived and there is relief all around, but there may be a bigger surprise on the cards. England, firm tournament favorites and the World No. 1 team, might now find it hard to make it to the semis.
It could have seemed like a joke at the start of the tournament but now, this scenario could become all too real. After a shocking defeat to Sri Lanka, England had opened the doors to the semi-finals for Bangladesh, Pakistan and, to an extent, Sri Lanka.
Going against them
Results of the last three days have gone exactly the way England didn't want them to go. Pakistan knocked South Africa out of the tournament, Bangladesh thrashed Afghanistan and now England have themselves gone down to eternal rivals Australia, led by a resurgent Aaron Finch at Lord's.
What it does now is make the points table very interesting. Pakistan are on five points from six games, Bangladesh have seven points from seven games and England have eight points from 7 games. The problem here for the English team is that they have to face two of the strongest teams in the tournament so far, India and New Zealand. They have to win both these matches to assure qualification. Even if they win one, they would want Pakistan, who have a genuine chance, to lose at least one of their remaining games.
Worst scenario for England
The worst-case scenario for England will be to lose both their games. Remember, they have lost back-to-back games and they will be under the pump and are facing two of the strongest teams in the tournament so far. That will leave England tottering on 8 points. It could be assumed that Bangladesh will lose against the Indian team and Pakistan would defeat Afghanistan, though cricket is a game of uncertainty.
If Pakistan win against New Zealand and then Afghanistan, they face Bangladesh in their last match with nine points. If they win, they are through. If Bangladesh win, it will boil down to the net run-rate which might favor the tigers. If Pakistan lose to the Kiwis, then their match-up with Bangladesh would become a knockout encounter.
With all the scenarios in play, can be that we are heading towards a thrilling finale in the league stage.
The Pakistan-New Zealand match at Birmingham is one England that would be keenly watching. If Pakistan manage to sneak past New Zealand, they have a great chance to make it to the semis. Oh, what a second half it is turning out to be.
Also read – Highest Individual Score in World cup