Cricket World Cup 2019: Dead rubbers loom large as semifinal race narrows further

 i.stuff.co.nz  06/17/2019 19:38:00  2

Cricket World Cup organisers face a second half of the tournament plagued with potential dead rubbers with the race for semifinals already seemingly down to five.

Australia, India, New Zealand and England already appear likely to be semi-finals bound, while Bangladesh could still mount a late charge after their seven-wicket defeat of the West Indies in Taunton on Monday (Tuesday NZ time).

South Africa, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are still mathematical chances, but would likely need to win all their remaining games, meaning their faint hopes could be extinguished this week.

Chris Gayle was out for a duck as the West Indies' semi-final hopes seemingly evaporated with their loss against Bangladesh.
Chris Gayle was out for a duck as the West Indies' semi-final hopes seemingly evaporated with their loss against Bangladesh.

Afghanistan, tipped by many to be a banana-skin game for many of the world's best, are yet to win a game.

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South Africa danger for NZ 
Cricket World Cup schedule
World Cup results and table

It comes after the International Cricket Council (ICC) moved to a 10-team World Cup this year after 14 countries played in the 2015 tournament.

At the time, the organisation claimed the move was to get rid of the "window dressing".

The move also allowed the tournament to get rid of the group stages, meaning all teams play each other before the finals for the first time since 1992 when it was co-hosted by New Zealand and Australia.

Despite that, the tightest games of the tournament so far have been Pakistan's 14-run win over England and New Zealand's effort to scrape home by two wickets against Bangladesh.

South Africa's semi-final hopes are slim after losing their opening three games.
South Africa's semi-final hopes are slim after losing their opening three games.

Four of the remaining 21 matches could now have no influence on the finals, which don't begin until July 9.

West Indies' clashes with Sri Lanka and Afghanistan threaten to have no bearing, as does Afghanistan against Pakistan and South Africa's clash with Sri Lanka.

South Africa's date with Pakistan at Lord's on Sunday could fall into the same category, but at least has the added interest that the loser is officially out of contention.

The Black Caps, pictured running inside because of the rain that washed out their last scheduled game against India, are emerging as likely semi-finalists.
The Black Caps, pictured running inside because of the rain that washed out their last scheduled game against India, are emerging as likely semi-finalists.

Meanwhile, the Black Caps next play South Africa on Wednesday before facing the West Indies, Pakistan, Australia and England.

Australia at least have a big finish coming up, with games against England and New Zealand to play a big role in determining their finishing position for the finals after Thursday's clash with Bangladesh.

They also have a dangerous South Africa to finish in Manchester, before first plays fourth and second meets third in the semifinals to decide who walks out onto Lord's in the final on July 14.

AAP

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