After 31 games and more than half of the World Cup already done and dusted, there are still eight teams fighting for the four semifinal spots. Sri Lanka’s defeat of England has thrown the tournament wide open and left nobody, not even top-placed New Zealand, safe. The Tigers are on the hunt, Pakistan are on a trajectory eerily similar to their 1992 World Cup-winning campaign and Sri Lanka have hit their groove at just the right time. England, India, New Zealand and Australia are also in fine form and will be hoping to hold on to their spots in the top four, but major upsets cannot be ruled out. Here is what each team must do to qualify.
New Zealand: Sitting pretty at the top of the table, New Zealand are almost certain to qualify for the semis. They need to win at least one of their three remaining games but even if they lose all three, they could go through depending on other results.
Remaining fixtures: Pakistan (26/06), Australia (29/06), England (03/06)
Australia: The five-time champions are back at it and what better time to peak than the World Cup? They need to win one more of their remaining two games to guarantee qualification.
Remaining fixtures: New Zealand (29/06), South Africa (06/06)
IndiA: India started their campaign late, but strongly. They are the only team other than New Zealand that are unbeaten. If India win at least one of their remaining games, they will have a chance to qualify. However, two wins would guarantee qualification.
Remaining fixtures: West Indies (27/06), England (30/06), South Africa (02/07), Sri Lanka (06/07)
England: The favorites have had a few hiccups along the way, and that could hinder their semifinals hopes. To make matters worse, they are marred by injuries and they haven’t defeated any of the two oppositions that they are yet to face for 27 years.
England will need to win both of their remaining games, but one win would be enough to see them through on net run rate if other results go their way.
Remaining fixtures: India (30/06, Birmingham), New Zealand (03/07, Durham)
Bangladesh: The Tigers have performed briliantly in this tournament, especially after some sublime performances from champion all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan. They managed to defeat South Africa and West Indies very convincingly and went down fighting against Australia. They will be looking to ram the advantage home in their remaining fixtures.
If England lose all their remaining games, Bangladesh will need to win just one more match to qualify for the semifinals. There are no guarantees for the Tigers though, as they will also need to hope that Sri Lanka do not win all their three remaining matches.
Remaining fixtures: India (02/07, Birmingham), Pakistan (05/07, London)
Sri Lanka: The late bloomers have thrown open the tournament by beating England and have a very realistic chance of making it to the next stage. But they will also be dependent upon the results of the other games.
The Islanders must win all of their remaining matches and hope that England slip up. Even if Bangladesh win both their games, Sri Lanka can topple them with three wins of their own and reach the semifinals.
Remaining fixtures: South Africa (28/06, Durham), West Indies (01/07, Durham), India (06/07, Leeds)
Pakistan: Pakistan’s unpredictabilty has been clearer than ever at this World Cup. They have either gone big or bust. They defeated England and South Africa, but lost by huge margins to West Indies and India.
Pakistan have no room for slip-ups; they must win all their remaining matches. That alone would not be enough, as they would need Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and England to slip up.
Remaining fixtures: New Zealand (26/06, Birmingham), Afghanistan (29/06, Leeds), Bangladesh (05/07, London)
West Indies: It’s been a sorry tale for the West Indies, who could have very well been ruling the roost. They had their chances against Australia, Bangladesh and New Zealand, but failed to capitalise on them all. Now, their World Cup is virtually all over.
However, despite having three points on the board, they are not completely out of the running.
If they were to win their remaining three matches, they would need a combination of things to qualify: England to lose all their games, Pakistan to beat Bangladesh but lose to Afghanistan and New Zealand, Sri Lanka to lose one game against another opponent and Bangladesh to lose all their remaining games.
As unlikely as all those things happening is, at least there is hope.
Remaining fixtures: India (27/06, Manchester), Sri Lanka (01/07, Durham), Afghanistan (04/07, Leeds)