There hasn’t been much to update on, because of all the rain, but we have gotten some matches in these last few days. England, India and Australia all continued their winning ways, while the West Indies and Afghanistan continued their losing ways (so much for my prediction that the Windies were going to make a little noise this tournament). The most interesting result and by far the most entertaining match of the last half dozen was Bangladesh’s defeat of the aforementioned hard luck Windies by seven wickets. And they did it by chasing down a massive total of 321 and got there with 51 balls left in their quiver. Amazing.
We are now at about the halfway mark of the group stage. Every team has played five matches except for Australia and India, who play theirs Thursday and Saturday respectively. The top four, to no one’s surprise, consists of England, India, Australia and New Zealand. If the group stage ended tomorrow, England would play India, and Australia would play New Zealand — two positively mouth-watering semi-finals.
On the cusp are Bangladesh and Sri Lanka who are two and three points out of 4th place. Each of them only has two losses though, so they could theoretically still lose one and stay under the dreaded four loss mark, but it’s going to take some slip ups from the top four to get either into the semi-finals, and I am not sure I see that happening. Today was a real litmus test for England — the only team I could see choking out of the knock out stage — but they clinically and efficiently dispatched Afghanistan to squash any lingering doubts regarding their character. All that said, this Bangladesh side has been damned impressive and if there are any slip-ups that just might be able to take advantage of it.
The real bummer for Sri Lanka is they have lost two full matches to rain. I would be hard pressed to say that they lost four points, but you could argue that they lost one if they had beaten Pakistan or Bangladesh and the other match had still been a rain out … but that’s a bit too much whatifism for my taste.
Speaking of Pakistan, they along with South Africa and the West Indies are not mathematically eliminated but are too far gone to realistically qualify for the knockout stage. Meanwhile, Afghanistan, despite all the heart in the world, are out, and can just look to play spoiler in their final five games.
Big matches on the horizon include Bangladesh vs Australia on Thursday — with the former looking to cause a big-four slip-up themselves — and the massive England vs Australia a week from today.
This has been a pretty great World Cup so far. The only bummer has been the rain. Here’s hoping for a dry few weeks and a memorable second half of the group stage.
Until next time.