Group B is fascinatingly poised, after England’s win over South Africa, in ICC World Cup 2011. Theoretically, it is possible for four teams to top the group. If you are wondering why it is so important to top the group when the top four teams will qualify fro the quarter-finals, the answer lies in the choice of rivals for the semi-finals: the top team from each group will meet the fourth team from the other. Let’s take a look at the four contenders for the top spot from group B:
India are the favourites to top the group. But their tied game against England has opened the door a little for the other contenders. Consequently, India will have to beat South Africa, to be assured of the top spot. In the event of India losing to Graeme Smith’s men, their hopes of heading the group would depend on factors such as other games’ results and net run rate comparisons. Additionally, India’s performance against West Indies would have greater significance.
Their shock loss to England has made South Africa’s game against India crucial to South Africa’s chances of qualifying. A win in that match would enhance South Africa’s claim to the top spot, as they have already beaten the Windies and can be expected to roll over the likes of Bangladesh and Ireland.
Had England lost to South Africa on March 6, they wouldn’t feature on this list; their six-run win has revived England’s campaign and made them possible contenders for the top spot in the group, subject to how other games pan out, most importantly, the India-South Africa match, next weekend. England’s own game against the West Indies would also be crucial, as the Carribeans are capable of beating Strauss’s men on their day. Bangladesh could also test England’s resolve, as they proved by winning an ODI on their recent England tour.
The West Indies are dark horses of the group. Having mauled Bangladesh, Darren Sammy’s charges would be raring to go against England and India. A Gayle storm could hit both these rivals and quell their challenge. Were the West Indies to beat both India and England, their loss to South Africa wouldn’t matter as it would all come down to net run rate comparisons in deciding the topper from the group.
So which team will qualify from Group B to meet the fourth ranked team from Group A, most likely, New Zealand, and thereby avoid meeting Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, until the semi-finals?