By: Ashir Rao
The excitement of the Cricket World Cup continues! This year’s celebration of the second most popular sport in the world has been full of upsets and surprises. Taking place in India, ten teams are fighting to take home cricket’s most coveted prize.
Last year’s champions, England, who met nothing but bad fortune, are currently seventh in the table, up from dead last. Their team is missing its best players and morale is low, causing them to lose matches that they were predicted to win by data based algorithms. Despite being eliminated early on, they are still trying to save face, decisively beating the Netherlands — who are at the bottom of the table — by a stunning 160 runs. However, the Netherland’s cricket program is fairly new, and even qualifying for the tournament is a significant achievement.
Other than their unexpected loss to the Netherlands, South Africa is having a dream run in the World Cup, sitting safely at the second spot on the table behind India. The South Africans will face powerhouses Australia in the semifinals at the historic Eden Gardens stadium in Kolkata. Australia has historically been the most dominant cricket team and has won five out of twelve Cricket World Cups. Although they are seeded lower than South Africa at third in the table, they are still favorites to win the semifinal thanks to strong performances by players such as Glenn Maxwell.
Another team guaranteed a spot in the semifinals is India, which has given a dominant performance in the tournament. They are undefeated, sitting at the top of the table. They dealt crushing blows to Sri Lanka, South Africa, and Pakistan in the round robin stage, getting all of these teams’ batsmen out for record low scores.
Three teams are vying to face India in the semifinals: Afghanistan, Pakistan, and New Zealand. Afghanistan has performed admirably given its training conditions — the team has to do all its training in India because Afghanistan is too unsafe. They are sixth in the table, very close to the coveted fourth spot.
Pakistan is even closer at fifth. At the beginning of the tournament, they were predicted to be higher in the rankings, but an unfortunate injury to their star bowler Naseem Shah has slowed the team’s momentum.
New Zealand currently resides at fourth place after breaking a four-match losing streak. As last year’s runners-up, they are also the team most likely to make it into the semifinals. This is a source of anxiety for India, as four years ago in the 2019 Cricket World Cup, India were dramatically upset by New Zealand in the semifinals.
All in all, this is shaping up to be a more interesting Cricket World Cup than most. The cricket-playing world is looking forward to the knockout stage of this competition.
(Sources: ESPN CricInfo, ICC)