But it’s a funny game.Defending champions England have experienced that over the last month or so, staring at an exit from the door at rock bottom of the points table after just one win in six matches.
While India became the first team to enter the semis, Bangladesh were the first to be ejected from that race. And for the remaining three semi-final spots, South Africa are looking a sure-shot. For the other two spots, Australia and New Zealand are still being challenged by teams in the middle of the table.
Here’s a look at which team stands where in the race to the semi-finals (listed in the order of their position on the points table):
INDIA (Qualified for semis)
Position: No. 1
Win/loss record: 7-0
Net Run Rate: +2.102
Matches left: vs South Africa and Netherlands
Seven wins in round-robin games guaranteed a place in the semi-finals, and India achieved that mark in style with a massive win over Sri Lanka in Mumbai. However, the home team’s next match against South Africa on November 5 plays crucial in deciding who finishes at the top spot on the leaderboard.
Position: No. 2
Win/loss record: 6-1
Net Run Rate: +2.290
Matches left: vs India and Afghanistan
South Africa’s only defeat was an upset loss to the Netherlands, but their dominant show, especially with the bat, has ensured big wins in five matches, boosting their net run rate, which is the best so far.
The Proteas ideally need one more win to breathe easy, but have a massive challenge coming up against the red-hot Team India. However, they will fancy their chances for that seventh win against Afghanistan in their last league fixture. Their net run rate is still the best among all the teams, which is a big plus in their favour in case they lose their next two matches.
Position: No. 3
Win/loss record: 4-2
Net Run Rate: +0.970
Matches left: vs England, Afghanistan, Bangladesh
The Australians, who have lifted the ODI World Cup trophy five times, seem to have peaked at the right time after a horrendous start that saw them losing their first two matches.
They too are in search of ideally two more wins at least and on form look firm favourites for the semi-finals, with matches left against the hapless England, Afghanistan and the eliminated Bangladesh.
Position: No. 4
Win/loss record: 4-3
Net Run Rate: +0.484
Matches left: vs Pakistan and Sri Lanka
The Kiwis began the World Cup with an all-win record in their first four matches, but saw their campaign nosedive with defeats in the next three, including a massive 190-run loss to South Africa, which has turned their match against Pakistan on November 4 into a virtual quarterfinal.
Position: No. 5
Win/loss record: 3-4
Net Run Rate: -0.024
Matches left: vs New Zealand and England
With their hopes hanging by a thread, Pakistan have done themselves a favour by beating Bangladesh with a healthy margin of seven wickets after losing four matches in a row. The win has not only improved their net run rate but also lifted them to the fifth spot on the points table.
However, their fate is not just in their hands now and depends on the results in other matches, besides the mandatory two wins they need in their last two matches. Against New Zealand, they will have to win by 83 runs or chase down New Zealand’s total in 35 overs, which will make their net run rate better than the Kiwis. If they do that, New Zealand lose to Sri Lanka as well and Afghanistan face defeat in their remaining matches, Babar Azam & Co might just sneak in.
Position: No. 6
Win/loss record: 3-3
Net Run Rate: -0.718
Matches left: vs Netherlands, Australia and South Africa
Afghanistan have emerged as one of the most exciting teams to watch in this World Cup, especially in the manner they have upset three former champions — England, Pakistan and Sri Lanka — to stay in the race to the semis. To get to the magical number of six wins, they need to beat their remaining three opponents and would want England to beat Australia.
Position: No. 7
Win/loss record: 2-5
Net Run Rate: -1.162
Matches left: vs Bangladesh and New Zealand
The demoralising defeat against India has more or less ended Sri Lanka’s journey, which is now alive only mathematically. But it will take some doing for them to take their net run rate into the positives and even if they do that, the World Cup will have to throw up some miraculous results for the Lankans to not board the flight back home.
Position: No. 8
Win/loss record: 2-4
Net Run Rate: -1.277
Matches left: vs Afghanistan, England, India
The ‘Men in Orange’ have won hearts of the cricket fans in this tournament, with their moment of glory coming in the win against the South Africans. Their rank outside chances are now resting on the Aussies and the New Zealanders losing all their matches and the Dutch beating their next three opponents, which include India.
Position: No. 9
Win/loss record: 1-6
Net Run Rate: -1.446
‘Chak de India!’ India scores tremendous victory against Sri Lanka, cricket fans on cloud nine
Position: No. 10
Win/loss record: 1-5
Net Run Rate: -1.652
Matches left: vs Australia, Netherlands and Pakistan
The defending champions have had a disastrous campaign, the worst ever for a team defending its ODI World Cup crown. But surprisingly, despite being positioned behind the eliminated Bangladesh on the points table, they have their extremely thin hopes alive. To qualify for the semis, which virtually depend on earth-shattering results in other games, England need three wins, a markedly improved net run rate and the points table to turn upside down.
Watch World Cup 2023: India crush Sri Lanka, become first team to qualify for semifinals