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Who can qualify for the last Cricket World Cup semifinal spots and how?


With less than a week to go in the ICC Cricket World Cup‘s round-robin group stage, India and South Africa have cemented their place in the tournament’s semifinals on November 15 and 16.

Hosts India’s 243-run thrashing of the Proteas on Sunday, and their eighth consecutive win in the tournament, confirmed their position at the top of the points table.

Despite their heavy loss against the two-time champions, South Africa have also qualified for the knockout stage, and Australia are almost certain to make it.

At the bottom half of the table, defending champions England became the first team to be knocked out of contention following a series of ignominious defeats and have been relegated to the last spot.

For Bangladesh, a tournament campaign that began with controversial selection decisions and public spats has ended in yet another failure to qualify for the knockout stage of an international tournament.

The Netherlands lived up to their reputation of producing an upset or two in a major tournament, but are all but out of running for the semifinals with five defeats and just four points. They face England and favourites India in their last two matches that they must win with big margins and hope all the teams above them lose all theirs to have a sniff.

Sri Lanka’s stuttering run has brought them two wins along with five losses. Even if the 1996 champions win their last two matches, against Bangladesh and New Zealand, they will need to overturn their poor net run rate to have a chance of qualifying.

Cricket World Cup standings on November er 6
Cricket World Cup standings on November 6

And so, it realistically leaves us with four teams fighting it out for the two remaining spots. Here’s a look at their run-up to the closing stages of the group stage and what they need to do to qualify:


Points: 10
Net run rate: 0.924
Remaining fixtures: Afghanistan (November 7), Bangladesh (November 11)

The five-time champions need to win one of their two remaining matches to secure their spot for a record-extending eighth Cricket World Cup semifinal. They are currently placed third with 10 points but could go up or down come the end of the group stage.

If Australia win both matches with big margins, they could leap past South Africa on net run rate or points if the Proteas lose their last match to Afghanistan.

Should they end up losing both fixtures, they will still have a very good chance of qualifying given their superior net run rate among the mid-table teams.

New Zealand

Points: 8
Net run rate: 0.398
Remaining fixture: Sri Lanka (November 9)

New Zealand began their campaign by thrashing England and were marked as one of the favourites but have now lost four matches and are placed fourth.

The 2019 finalists find themselves embroiled in a three-way tussle with Pakistan and Afghanistan but have the advantage of a superior net run rate among the three teams.

Kane Williamson’s men need to win their last group match against Sri Lanka and hope Afghanistan lose at least one of their last two matches.

New Zealand will still have a chance if they lose to Sri Lanka but do not take a big hit on their net run rate. In such a scenario, they will need Pakistan and Afghanistan not to win any more matches, allowing the Blackcaps to go through on net run rate.


Points: 8
Net run rate: 0.036
Remaining fixture: England (November 11)

In all-too-familiar circumstances, Pakistan’s late surge has seen them get back in contention after two back-to-back wins with a match to go against the tournament’s bottom-placed team.

However, their qualification for the semifinal is once again dependent, not only on other results but also on the margin of those results.

Babar Azam’s men need to win against England and hope that New Zealand and Afghanistan lose all their matches. A loss to England will all but confirm Pakistan’s exit.

The 1992 champions can also qualify on net run rate if:

  • New Zealand beat Sri Lanka by a slim margin and Pakistan beat England by 130 runs or more.
  • The match between New Zealand and Sri Lanka is washed out, as rain is forecast over the next few days in Bengaluru, and Afghanistan win one match but do not improve their net run rate by a big margin.


Points: 8
Net run rate: -0.330
Remaining fixtures: Australia (November 7), South Africa (November 10)

Of the three teams with eight points apiece, Afghanistan have the biggest advantage as they are the only team with two matches in hand.

Two wins in these two matches will see them sliding into the semifinals with ease.

However, given the reputation and form of their opponents, Afghanistan face an uphill task and risk missing out on the semifinals with a loss against either.

Should Hashmatullah Shahidi’s crowd favourites win one match and finish on 10 points, they can qualify for the semifinals if Sri Lanka beat New Zealand and England beat Pakistan.

In case New Zealand and Pakistan win their respective matches, Afghanistan would be knocked out despite being level on points due to their much poorer net run rate.

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