Will South Africa reach the semi-finals? This is what everybody is wondering about after South Africa lost to New Zealand in yesterday's match. With Australia guaranteed to top the league in the Super 8s, New Zealand already in and Sri Lanka, with one match against Ireland remaining, are sure to make it to the final four, the race for the last of the semi-final spots is between South Africa and England. The current form of West Indies and the reputation of Bangladesh makes them not so hot in the race for the last spot of the final four.
The interesting feature of this race is that the English are there in the race thanks to the inconsistent showing by South Africa in the Super 8s. There are numerous statistical analysis available about what combination of results in the next few matches along with the run rate equation would make which team reach the last four, but my take is that whoever of these teams reaches the last four is not a deserving one. The only team that can be called deserving would be Bangladesh, if they make it.
The other three - South Africa, West Indies and England - can be blamed for making this World Cup lacklustre. All of them promised a lot before the tournament began. South Africa climbed to the number 1 spot in the ODI rankings. England beat Australia in Australia for 4 consecutive times and West Indies were looking a rejuvenated side after there recent form in the Champions trophy. And the cricket fans were finally hoping that there would, finally, be some competition for Australia. But it was too good to be true. They only flattered to decieve.
The only hope now is that one of these teams pick themselves up in the same way as Pakistan did in the 1992 World Cup. Pakistan were then nearly down and out of the Cup until they miraculously made it to the semi-final as the last of the lot and then went to beat the league toppers New Zealand in the semis and finally went on to win the Cup in the most astonishing manner. If only one of these teams can do to Australia, what Pakistan did to New Zealand and then go on to win the Cup, it will not only help this dismal Cup end on a high not but will also electrify the international cricket scene.