This is a familiar territory for Pakistan. Down, but not out, hoping for a 1992-esque comeback and relying on things to magically fall their way. Babar Azam and his men were among the title contenders for the 2023 World Cup. With top batters on their side and a fiery pace attack, Pakistan had the elements to make an impact in India. After kicking off their campaign with a promising win against Netherlands and Sri Lanka, the team incurred four straight defeats, a first of its kind in World Cups for Pakistan, to have their tournament on a wing and a prayer. But the question that the fans still ask is whether Pakistan can still make the semi-finals in this World Cup.
Realistically, it looks far from possible for Pakistan to turn things around, even with a win against Bangladesh at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Tuesday or a similar one against 2019 runner-up New Zealand on November 4 or against a beleaguered England on November 11 in their final league game. A win each in all their remaining three games will leave Pakistan with a maximum of 10 points, and that will not be enough for Pakistan to make it through to the semi-finals. A majority of their chances depend on how the league phase unfolds for the remaining teams.
What are the qualification scenarios for Pakistan?
If Pakistan win all their three remaining games and have 10 points in their account, they need to ensure that Australia, presently placed fourth with eight points in six games, lose all their three matches against Afghanistan, England and Bangladesh. They need Sri Lanka to lose two of their remaining three matches, against India, New Zealand and Bangladesh. This will leave Australia with eight points and not allow Sri Lanka to gain more than six points. Another way is if New Zealand falters big time. The Black Caps have eight points and if they lose at least two of their remaining three matches, they can’t go beyond 10.
However, Afghanistan’s stellar victory against the 1996 champions in Pune on Tuesday has made things difficult for Pakistan. In addition to the aforementioned scenarios, they desperately need Afganistan to lose two against Netherlands and South Africa but beat Australia with a margin of victory that does not see the side topple Pakistan’s net run rate. Pakistan hence need to ensure that their margin of victories are good enough to yield a positive NRR at the end of the league stage.