Babar Azam‘s Pakistan side is on the brink of a premature exit from the ICC World Cup 2023 after Kane Williamson’s New Zealand thrashed Sri Lanka in its final round-robin phase of the ICC event in India on Thursday. Leading New Zealand to a comfortable win over the 1996 champions, speedster Trent Boult showcased a bowling masterclass as Sri Lanka were bowled out for only 171 in the crucial World Cup encounter.
The New Zealand pacer bowler returned figures of of 3-37 while speed merchant Lockie Ferguson, and spinners Mitchell Santner and Rachin Ravindra bagged two wickets to turn matchday 41 into a low-scoring encounter. Besides opener Kusal Perera, no Sri Lankan batter crossed the 50-run mark as Sri Lanka folded for a below-part total at the M.Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru. Making their qualification a formality before the completion of the round-robin phase, New Zealand chased down the target in 28.5 overs to upstage an already eliminated Sri Lanka at the World Cup.
Kiwi openers Devon Conway (45) and Rachin Ravindra (42) added 86 runs for the first wicket before Daryl Mitchell’s quick-fire knock powered New Zealand to a six-wicket win over the 1996 champions at the grandest stage. With the much-needed win in its final league match of the World Cup, New Zealand have retained the fourth spot on the points table. The 2019 and 2015 runners-up are two points ahead of the fifth-placed Pakistan side, who still have a game in hand.
Are Pakistan out of World Cup?
Babar’s Pakistan side is set to meet Jos Buttler’s England in their final league fixture of the ICC World Cup on Saturday. A win by a narrow margin would have been enough for Pakistan to qualify if Sri Lanka had beaten New Zealand. If New Zealand had wrapped up the contest in 40 overs, Pakistan would have only gotten ahead of New Zealand on the basis of Net-Run-Rate (NRR) with a win over England by around 183 runs (Assuming Pakistan crossed the 300-run barrier).
Since New Zealand have ended its final league game inside the 30 overs, Pakistan will now need to beat England by a handsome margin. If Pakistan bat first and end up scoring 300, Babar and Co. will have to restrict England to 13. If Pakistan opt to bowl first and England surrenders for 100, the 1992 world champions will need to chase down the target in 2.5 overs.
Who will India meet in semi-finals?
As things stand, New Zealand are heading to the semi-finals of the ICC World Cup. The Black Caps (+0.743) are ahead of fifth-placed Pakistan (+0.036) on NRR. The Kiwis are tipped to meet Rohit Sharma’s Team India in the first semi-final of the ICC World Cup at the Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday. Hosts India will meet the Netherlands in their final league game at the M.Chinnaswamy Stadium on Sunday.