World Cup Cricket News 12/03/03
Report By Ranjit Nair
Australia has assured itself of first place in the Super Sixes, while India will finish either second or third, ensuring the two World Cup favourites will not meet until the finals. Whom they will play in the semi-finals is still undecided with all the remaining four nations in contention for the remaining two semifinal berths.
With the fates of these nations hopelessly intertwined, the remaining matches are going to be extremely significant to all six Super Six teams.
The first of the remaining matches is between the two African nations, Kenya and Zimbabwe, both of whom have reached this far because of forfeited games. A Kenyan win means that the Zimbabwean challenge comes to an end, while Kenya book their ticket to the semi-finals.
From India's perspective, this means their semi-final match on March 20th will be against Kenya irrespective of the outcome of any of the remaining matches. This could be a big advantage since that match is being played under lights.
The game between India and New Zealand will be a bit of a grudge match as the Indians will be keen to show that their debacle in New Zealand before the World Cup was just a flash in the pan. From New Zealand's perspective, they control their own destiny in this World Cup.
Winning against India assures them a semi-final berth, while losing will almost certainly mean they are eliminated. They can enter through the back door in the unlikely scenario where Kenya beat Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka go on to lose to Zimbabwe. By winning, India can take pleasure from eliminating New Zealand and will avoid having to play them again in the semi-finals.
Although this game is not crucial to India from the semi-final perspective, both Kenya and Sri Lanka may be hoping that India defeat New Zealand. An Indian victory means that if Kenya lose to Zimbabwe, Kenya will still qualify for the semis.
From Sri Lanka's perspective, they will stand a better chance of making it to the semi-finals if India win.
The next game is between Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka. Should Zimbabwe defeat Kenya, this becomes a must-win game for both teams as the winner of this game is assured a place in the semifinals unless Australia inexplicably lose to Kenya and India lose to New Zealand.
The significance of the last game between Kenya and Australia will become clearer only after the preceding games. It seems likely that all four semi-final seats will be decided before this game. In any case, it is unlikely that the East African nation will be the ones to stop the Australian Juggernaut.
As this analysis shows, the last two slots in the semi-finals are pretty much up for grabs. All six countries will be eagerly watching these games to see if their teams will make it or just to see whom they will play in the semi-finals.
Indian fans will be hoping that Kenya manage to defeat Zimbabwe today as this will significantly ease the path of the Indian team into the final.