Afghanistan pulled off another stunning upset in the World Cup 2023 by defeating Sri Lanka by four wickets in a nail-biting finish on Monday, October 30. Chasing a modest target of 201, Afghanistan lost six wickets for 151 runs before Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi guided them to victory with an unbeaten 50-run partnership. Rashid hit the winning boundary off the last ball of the match to spark wild celebrations among the Afghan players and fans.
Sri Lanka, who won the toss and opted to bat first, were bowled out for 200 in 49.4 overs. Their top order collapsed to 55 for five as Hamid Hassan and Naveen-ul-Haq shared four wickets between them. Dhananjaya de Silva and Dasun Shanaka tried to rebuild the innings with a 74-run stand, but both fell in quick succession. Wanindu Hasaranga scored a fighting 43 not out to take Sri Lanka past 200.
India, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand dominate the points table
The win took Afghanistan to the fifth spot in the points table with six points from six matches. They are still in contention for a semifinal berth, but need to win their remaining three games and hope for other results to go their way. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, slipped to the eighth position with four points from six games. They have a slim chance of making it to the knockouts, but need to improve their net run rate significantly.
India, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand are the top four teams in the points table after match no.30. All four teams have won five out of their six games and have 10 points each. India are at the top with a superior net run rate of +1.467, followed by South Africa (+1.062), Australia (+0.874) and New Zealand (+0.763). All four teams are likely to qualify for the semifinals, unless they suffer a dramatic collapse in their remaining matches.
Pakistan face a tough challenge to reach the semifinals
Pakistan, who started the tournament with two impressive wins against England and West Indies, have lost their momentum with four consecutive defeats against India, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. They are currently at the seventh spot with four points from six matches. They have a poor net run rate of -0.387, which could prove costly in case of a tie.
Pakistan need to win their remaining three matches against Bangladesh, England and New Zealand to have any chance of reaching the semifinals. They also need other teams’ results to favour them and boost their net run rate. Pakistan can still finish as high as second in the points table if they win all their matches and India lose all theirs. However, this scenario is highly unlikely given India’s form and schedule.
Pakistan can also finish in the third or fourth spot if they win all their matches and either South Africa or Australia lose all theirs. However, this scenario also depends on the net run rate of all the teams involved. Pakistan can also hope for Afghanistan to beat New Zealand and Australia in their next two matches, which would open up the race for the fourth spot.
India and Pakistan can still meet in the semifinal or final
Cricket fans, especially from India and Pakistan, are eagerly waiting for another potential encounter between the arch-rivals in the World Cup 2023. India and Pakistan have already played each other once in the group stage, where India thrashed Pakistan by nine wickets on October 14.
India and Pakistan can still face each other in the semifinal or final if both teams manage to finish in the top four positions. If India finish first and Pakistan finish fourth, they will meet in the first semifinal on November 15 in Mumbai. If India finish second and Pakistan finish third, they will meet in the second semifinal on November 16 in Kolkata.
If both India and Pakistan finish in the top two positions, they will avoid each other in the semifinals but can hope for a clash in the final on November 19 in Delhi. However, this scenario also depends on other teams’ performances and net run rates.