Cricket World Cup qualification scenarios for Pakistan, Afghanistan and New Zealand

England still have a lot to play for even though they have been eliminated from the semi-finals race

Fakhar Zaman has reignited Pakistan's World Cup 2023 semi-final hopes. AP
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The World Cup 2023 has entered its final stretch of group stage matches. India and South Africa are the two teams who have secured their qualification for the semi-finals, while Bangladesh and a hapless England have already been eliminated.

For all other teams still in the hunt, the qualification scenario involves various permutations. Here we take a look at where the 10 teams stand, as of Sunday.

Remaining fixtures of 2023 World Cup

Monday, November 6: Bangladesh v Sri Lanka, Delhi

Tuesday, November 7: Afghanistan v Australia, Mumbai

Wednesday, November 8: England v Netherlands, Pune

Thursday, November 9: New Zealand v Sri Lanka, Bengaluru

Friday, November 10: Afghanistan v South Africa, Ahmedabad

Saturday, November 11: Australia v Bangladesh, Pune; England v Pakistan, Kolkata

Sunday, November 12: India v Netherlands, Bengaluru

India (14 points) and South Africa (12 points)

India and South Africa are the only teams who have qualified for the semi-finals as of now and have two matches left – one game against each other on Sunday after which South Africa play Afghanistan and India take on Netherlands.

Although they have qualified for the semis, both will be looking to top the points table as the group winner will play the fourth-ranked team in the semi-final.

Australia (10 points)

Australia are in a strong position to be the third team to qualify for the semis and not be dependent on other results. Their last two games are against Afghanistan and Bangladesh. They need only one more win to finish in the top four as it will get them to 12 points.

Even if Australia lose both games, they are still likely to make it to the last four because of their healthy net run rate (+0.924).

Australia can be eliminated if they lose their remaining two games with a big margin and other teams like Afghanistan, New Zealand and Pakistan win their remaining games to reach 10 points. For context, Australia are currently 160 runs ahead of New Zealand on NRR.

Afghanistan (8 points)

With two games left (against Australia and South Africa), Afghanistan are another team not dependent on the other teams. The best scenario for them to reach the semis is – win the remaining two games and get to 12 points which ensures a semi-final berth.

If they lose one game and win the other one to get to 10 points, they will need Sri Lanka to beat New Zealand, Bangladesh to beat Sri Lanka and England to beat Pakistan. In this scenario, they can qualify without worrying about NRR.

If it comes down to a NRR tie with Pakistan (NRR +0.036) or New Zealand (+0.398), Afghanistan are unlikely to make it to the semis because their NRR is currently very low at -0.330.

New Zealand (8 points)

After four defeats in a row, New Zealand no longer have the situation in their control, but their healthy NRR (+0.398) might help them in reaching the semi-finals.

The best scenario to be in the top four is for them to win their last match against Sri Lanka, Pakistan either lose to England or don’t win by a big margin and Afghanistan lose at least one match and don’t win the other game by a heavy margin.

New Zealand are currently approximately 130 runs ahead of Pakistan. What that means is even if New Zealand win a close game against Sri Lanka, Pakistan will need to beat England by about 130 runs or chase the target in 28 overs to topple New Zealand’s NRR. That’s assuming there are no upsets in the games involving Australia and Afghanistan.

Pakistan (8 points)

Pakistan are back in the contention after two wins against Bangladesh and New Zealand but they are still well behind New Zealand on net run rate (approximately 130 runs at this stage).

Pakistan’s best scenario to reach the semis is for New Zealand to lose to Sri Lanka, Afghanistan to lose at least one game and their NRR stays low, and Pakistan to beat England. In this scenario, Pakistan will qualify without worrying about New Zealand’s NRR.

There is rain forecast in Bengaluru this week for the game between Sri Lanka and New Zealand. If that game is washed out, Pakistan will need only a win against England to reach the semis (provided Afghanistan don’t create an upset).

If New Zealand beat Sri Lanka and have a NRR clash with Pakistan, then Pakistan will need to beat England by a heavy margin. That heavy margin will be determined after the NZ vs SL result.

Let’s assume NZ win by the closest margin possible (ie 1 run or 0 balls remaining), Pakistan will need to beat England by approximately 130 runs or chase with about 22 overs left to be ahead of NZ’s NRR. Again, that’s assuming Afghanistan, who have two difficult games against Australia and South Africa, don’t come into play.

Sri Lanka and Netherlands (4 points each)

Both teams are virtually out of the semi-finals race and can qualify only mathematically because of their poor net run rate – Sri Lanka are at -1.162 and Netherlands are at -1.398.

There is a mathematical possibility for Sri Lanka but for that they will need to win their remaining two games (against Bangladesh and New Zealand) by gigantic margins and then hope England beat Pakistan and Afghanistan lose their remaining two games.

In the above scenario, even if Sri Lanka beat Bangladesh by 200 runs, they will need to beat New Zealand by about 130 runs to stand a chance to qualify for the semis.

Netherlands’ situation is pretty similar, but their NRR is even worse than Sri Lanka. To reach the semis, they will need to win their remaining two games against England and India by heavy margins and then hope the other results go their way.

Bangladesh and England (2 points each)

Both are already eliminated from the semi-finals race. However, both will look to finish in top eight as the hosts Pakistan and top seven teams from this World Cup will qualify for the ICC Champions Trophy 2025.

Updated: November 05, 2023, 12:11 PM