..With Afghanistan securing their place in next year’s World Cup, there’s only one spot left for automatic qualification
By Sampath Bandarupalli
AFGHANISTAN became the seventh team to secure direct qualification for next year’s 50-over World Cup following the rained-off ODI against Sri Lanka on Sunday.
Afghanistan, alongside the World Cup hosts India, England, New Zealand, Australia, Bangladesh and Pakistan, will occupy the top seven spots in the Super League, barring points deductions for slow over-rates.
That means only one of West Indies, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Ireland have a realistic chance for the remaining spot to avoid the qualifiers
. The maximum number of points the current six teams in the bottom can achieve is 109, while each of the top six teams have 120 and more. Afghanistan, currently placed seventh with 115 points, still have ten matches to be played. It is unlikely they will slip below 109 with over-rate penalties due to their spin-heavy bowling unit and having not lost a point yet.
Played – 24, Points – 88
Remaining matches – 0
West Indies are the only side to complete their 24 fixtures of the Super League. For West Indies to make it through to the World Cup directly with 88 points, none of Ireland, Sri Lanka and South Africa should win more than two of their remaining matches. West Indies could see themselves tie on 88 points with Ireland (if they win two of their remaining three), but they will be ranked higher based on the number of wins.
Played – 21, Points – 68
Remaining matches – 3 vs Bangladesh (H)
Ireland would need to win their remaining three matches to have any chance of direct qualification for the World Cup. That, however, won’t be enough if either Sri Lanka or South Africa win all their remaining matches. Ireland’s chances will improve only if both Sri Lanka and South Africa don’t win more than three games from here
Played – 20, Points – 67
Remaining matches – 1 vs Afghanistan (H) and 3 vs New Zealand (A)
Sri Lanka need to win at least three of their remaining matches to have a chance of direct qualification for the World Cup. In the scenario of three wins, they need to hope South Africa don’t win more than three while Ireland don’t win more than two of their remaining games. Even if Sri Lanka win their remaining four games, they still need South Africa to lose a game.
It also won’t be easy for Sri Lanka going ahead as their remaining games are New Zealand in New Zealand after the last ODI against Afghanistan. Sri Lanka have not won an ODI series in New Zealand since 2001 and New Zealand not losing an ODI at home since 2019.
Played – 16, Points – 59
Remaining matches – 3 vs Australia (A), 3 vs England (H) and 2 vs Netherlands (H)
South Africa still have eight matches to be played, but three of those are against Australia, a series for which they will lose points due to forfeiture. South Africa can qualify for the World Cup irrespective of other results if they win the remaining five games. They must, however, win at least three matches to have a chance of a No.8 finish.
Three wins will be enough for South Africa if Sri Lanka and Ireland don’t win more than two matches, but they have to win four if any of Sri Lanka and Ireland bag three wins. South Africa will be in a must-win scenario for their remaining five matches if Sri Lanka manage to win their remaining four.
South Africa should fancy themselves to win their remaining five matches as all those games will be at home, including two against the Netherlands, placed at the bottom of the Super League. The remaining three are against England, staged between the inaugural SA20 to ensure maximum availability for the home team. But England could miss a few key players who will play in the International T20 League, scheduled in UAE simultaneously.