As the ICC World Cup 2023 hits the halfway mark, the four teams likely to finish in the top four for a place in the semifinals have started separating themselves from the rest of the pack, but major upsets can still cause a few jitters and change in positions.
All 10 teams have played five matches each, and six wins in nine round-robin matches can be considered safe, while seven wins are likely to guarantee a place in the knockouts.The closest to that six-win mark are hosts India, who have won all their five matches so far.
Among the big teams staring at an early exit, England and Pakistan face must-win situations against India and South Africa, respectively, in their next matches to keep their semifinal hopes alive. Defending champions England succumbed to their fourth defeat in five matches, after losing to Sri Lanka on Thursday; and 1992 winners Pakistan have lost their last three matches, including a stunning loss to Afghanistan.
Australia have rebounded in style after two opening defeats to be at No. 4, South Africa haven’t let the defeat against Netherlands affect their momentum and are No. 2, while No. 3 New Zealand have been consistent other than their only defeat so far to India.
As per the current points-table scenario, unbeaten India look the only team to have a foot in the semifinals.
The 25th game of the 48-match tournament saw title-holders England slipping deeper into a hole, when they were hammered by Sri Lanka in an eight-wicket defeat.
The Englishmen have had the same run as Netherlands so far, winning just one of their five matches to occupy the last two spots. England are only just ahead of the Dutch at No. 9 by virtue of a better net run rate (NRR).
Bangladesh are travelling in the same boat as England and Netherlands, with just one win in five matches, which was an upset victory over England. The Bengal Tigers’ 8th place on the leaderboard is only because of their NRR being better than the last two.
Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Afghanistan have registered two wins in five matches and are separated by NRR, with the 1996 winners Sri Lanka at No. 5, Pakistan No. 6 and Afghanistan No. 7. With four points each and 4th-placed Australia only two points ahead, the three mid-table teams are still in the fray but can’t afford another slip.
Afghanistan, by beating England and Pakistan, have proved that they are up for any challenge and will do all they can to chase a historic first-ever semifinal qualification.
England face a tough task in their must-win clash against India, who are moving like a fast train, on October 29. A defeat there will put them out of the race to semis. Pakistan’s situation is not much different as they face high-flying South Africa on Friday, who have set the tournament on fire with the bat. A defeat will push Babar Azam’s team closer to the exit gate.
Teams currently occupying the top four spots have been the most consistent, barring Australia’s two consecutive defeats to start their campaign before they rallied to win the next three.
South Africa and New Zealand are locked on points, 8 each, and separated by NRR, with the Proteas’ +2.370 far better than New Zealand’s +1.481.
India’s NRR at the moment (+1.353) is behind both NZ and SA, and they are only two points ahead at the top. But another win for the home team will more or less assure a place in the semifinals.

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