With the conclusion of this evening’s match between India and West Indies, the ICC World Cup has reached 75 per cent conclusion.
At the halfway stage it looks like a very one-sided competition with the top four looked locked down and the rest just there in numbers and waiting for the tournament to finish.
With Sri Lanka’s upset win setting the tone, suddenly the tournament is lit up, and with England losing to Australia and New Zealand losing to Pakistan yesterday, the remaining 25 per cent of the round-robin format is very lively right now.
Looking at the remaining fixtures of this tournament, the first two spots are 80 per cent decided, the third spot is 60-70 per cent fixed and only the fourth spot is up for grabs.
Assuming that the weather god stays clear of the remaining matches for all the matches to be played, here are the likely outcomes.
With New Zealand and England closing difficult fixtures with the fellow top-four teams, they will take points from each other, similarly with the chasing pack for the fourth spot: Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. For example, Sri Lanka still needs to play India and Bangladesh plays Pakistan.
I am looking at ten points which is the cutoff for the fourth spot, and both Pakistan and Bangladesh will only get nine points max, West Indies only gets a nine-point maximum and Sri Lanka will get ten points maximum instead of 12.
At the top half of the table, as Eoin Morgan has said, England’s qualification is still pretty much in their own hands, that is to win one of the two remaining matches to get to ten points. I would say they pretty much qualify without worrying about the chasing pack’s results.
Things only get ugly if they are to lose their last two matches. They don’t deserve to win the World Cup if they stuff up their last two.
The top half of the table is just matches to fine tune and prepare for the business end of the tournament where the real cutthroat knockout format comes into play.
I would predict that India will finish first on the ladder followed by Australia, New Zealand and the last spot 65 per cent England and 35 per cent Bangladesh.
So the knockout format suits the team that qualifies and the finishing order does not matter. India for sure would not want to have an off day in the office, England will also know that once they discover their batting mantra bring it on. Australia and New Zealand will square off in another semi which pretty much on par as each one knows every strength and weakness of its team.
So the team that holds its nerve will triumph. Bring on the next 25 per cent of the tournament and beyond. The World Cup is finally alive and full of excitement. I am looking forward to this phase of the matches.