We are nearing the end of the group stage. Australia have booked their place in the knockout stage, and India and New Zealand won’t be far along. The fourth and final semi-final spot is now up for grabs, as favorites and hosts England lost for the second straight time today. With that loss England now sit on eight points with two matches left to play, and Bangladesh are breathing down their necks on seven points and also have two matches left to play. England hold the advantage in Net Run Rate if it comes to that.
But here’s the rub for England: their last two matches are against New Zealand and India — two powerhouses — while Bangladesh plays India and Pakistan. England definitely will need to play out of their minds to beat both India and New Zealand, for while I don’t see Bangladesh beating India, they have a good shot at beating Pakistan. If England lose those matches and Bangladesh loses to India but beats Pakistan, then they would leap frog England into 4th. What a thing that would be! There are 4.4 million people of Bangladeshi descent in the UK and they would blow the roof off the country if they make it to the knockouts.
And that’s really the only story left of the group stage, unless New Zealand or India fall off a cliff, but iI don’t see that happening, so all eyes will be on England and Bangladesh. The former plays India on the 30th of June and New Zealand on June 3. And the latter play India on July 2 and Pakistan on July 5. Those are the dates to pay attention to.
One other thing to note is that as we near the end of the tournament, the players are beat up, sore and worn out — we all saw Ben Stokes hobbling out there today — and so days off become of paramount importance. England will have four days off before the India game compared to India’s two, but will only have two days off to New Zealand’s three in that match. Meanwhile, Bangladesh have SEVEN days off before they play India on July 2, while India will only have had ONE. For their last match they will have two days rest before playing Pakistan while Pakistan will have had six. I think, right now, looking at those numbers, it’s a bit of a wash, but if Bangladesh beat a worn out India on July 2 then England should be very, very worried.
You also have to take in account that as New Zealand and India qualify, they might start resting players, which would be a real shame. I hope they don’t and the twilight stages of this tournament entertain us as completely as possible.
Until next time.