With the group phase of the 2023 ODI World Cup over, we have our semi-finalists and, looking at the way the stage panned out, it is safe to say the best teams have qualified for the last four.
India and New Zealand will clash in the first semi-final in Mumbai on Wednesday while Australia and South Africa face off in Kolkata the day after.
Here we take a closer look at the four semi-finalists.
The usual suspects
The 45-match group stage of the 2023 World Cup ended with India, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand qualifying for the semi-finals.
Interestingly, these are also the four teams, albeit in a different order, who have the highest win percentage in men’s World Cups in the past 10 years (three tournaments in 2015, 2019 and 2023).
Pakistan, who have the fifth highest win percentage, finished at the same position in this World Cup, just like they did in the previous edition in 2019.
Australia’s semi-final dominance and New Zealand’s difficulty
Australia and New Zealand are the only two teams in the world who have reached the semi-finals on nine occasions at the men’s World Cup. However, they have produced contrasting results.
While Australia have won seven semi-finals (the most by any team), New Zealand have passed this stage just twice.
But the Black Caps can draw comfort from the fact that their two semi-final wins came in the two most recent editions – against India in Manchester in 2019 and against South Africa in Auckland in 2015.
South Africa, who have never won played a World Cup final, will be looking for a first win in five attempts when they take on Australia in Kolkata.
India’s case is quite interesting. Two of their four defeats in the semis have come in the past two World Cups – against New Zealand in 2019 and against Australia in 2015.
In the past 10 years, India have lost just three out of 26 matches at World Cups, and two of them have been in the semis.
India look to overcome knockout woes
India are currently ranked No 1 in all three formats (Tests, ODIs and T20Is) and have dominated global tournaments in recent years in terms of win percentages. But they haven’t crossed the finish line in any senior ICC men’s tournament for a decade.
Since winning the Champions Trophy in 2013 in the UK, India have gone nine ICC tournaments (four T20 World Cups, two ODI World Cups, two World Test Championships and one Champions Trophy) without success.
They have mostly been found wanting in the final stages of tournaments. Of their past 10 semi-finals and finals in ICC tournaments, India have won just two matches (a semi-final against South Africa in the 2014 T20 World Cup and against Bangladesh in the 2017 Champions Trophy).
India banking on Virat Kohli’s form
With 594 runs at an average of 99.00, Virat Kohli is the leading run-getter at the 2023 World Cup. India will be hoping he continues that form in the knockouts.
Although Kohli has three low scores in the semi-finals of the World Cup (9 against Pakistan in Mohali, 1 against Australia in Sydney and 1 against New Zealand in Manchester), his overall record in the final stages of the ICC tournaments is commendable (656 runs at an average of 54.66).
He played a good knock when India won the World Cup final against Sri Lanka in 2011 (35 off 49) and also scored a crucial 43 off 34 against England in the final of the 2013 Champions Trophy, which remains India’s last major tournament win.
Last year, in the T20 World Cup semi-final against England in Adelaide, he scored a fifty.
The 35 year old, however, is yet to score a century in the knockout stages. If he scores one this week, it won’t just help India but will also make him the first batsman to score 50 centuries in ODI cricket.