Cape Town – Unless the gradually more autumnal weather
intervenes with some late group-stage washouts in Australasia, the
quarter-final line-up for World Cup 2015 looks increasingly safe to predict.
India have emphatically bolted down first place in South
Africa’s group, Pool B, as they thumped Ireland by eight wickets on Tuesday to
advance to 10 points from their five matches thus far (one to play, against
eliminated Zimbabwe) with a perfect win record.
The Proteas, as anticipated for a few days already, are now
scrapping to ensure second place with eight points: they just have to beat
winless minnows the United Arab Emirates in Wellington on Thursday (03:00 SA
time) to achieve that as their net run rate should comfortably eclipse
Pakistan’s even if that team ends alongside them on eight by seeing off Ireland
– as they ought to -- on Sunday.
If the unthinkable happens and AB de Villiers’s team somehow
botch it in the “Cake Tin” or the game is a no-result, which might well allow
Pakistan to bump them to down to third, the Proteas would probably have to
tackle old CWC nemesis Australia in a quarter-final rather than at a more
desirable later stage.
But as things stand, and with only the occasional light
shower predicted for Thursday’s SA match, they remain firmly on course to end
second and meet Sri Lanka (expected third-placed finishers in the other group) in
their quarter-final, which would be at Sydney Cricket Ground next Wednesday,
It would not be the worst outcome, even given the Lankans’
current confidence and the fact that Kumar Sangakkara is the tournament’s
leading run-scorer with 372 at an average of 124.
More often than not, the Proteas would be tipped to beat
them in a one-day international off the Subcontinent if playing to near-fullest
Some Sport24 readers excitedly inquired after Bangladesh’s
famous triumph over departing England on Monday whether the Tigers now shaped
up as South Africa’s likeliest quarters foes – they have advanced, after all,
to a point ahead of Sri Lanka in Pool A with one match each to play.
But those two should swap berths again as Sri Lanka will be
hotly tipped to beat Scotland at often chilly Hobart in their final pool
fixture (this Wednesday), whilst Bangladesh really should be downed by unbeaten
tournament co-hosts New Zealand in Hamilton on Friday.
While it is true that nothing rides on the game for the
Black Caps, already assured of top berth in the pool, they are unlikely to step
off the pedal too much, knowing that the knockout phase is just around the
corner and they would not wish their fabulous momentum to be disturbed.
West Indies (fifth) presently lie outside the qualifying
berths in Pool B, but smart money suggests they will still bump out Ireland
from playoffs status – the Irish have to finish against Pakistan, emboldened by
their victory over the Proteas in Auckland, on Sunday, while the Windies end on
the same day against the UAE (at Napier) and that should be their ticket to the
This, then, is the
likely quarter-final list if the elements and form book play ball:
March 18: South
Africa v Sri Lanka, Sydney
March 19: India v
March 20: Australia v
March 21: New Zealand
v West Indies, Wellington
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