Group 'B' is as open as it gets at this point in time

Written by: Mamatha Maben
Published: Wednesday, February 19, 2003, 4:34 [IST]
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Bangalore: Ten days into the World Cup and cricket has already witnessed a good measure of the proverbial 'glorious uncertainties' - especially group 'B'. Group 'B' is as open as it can get, with all four teams (big ones) still to clinch their Super Six berths.

In other words, nobody's place is a certainty; even NZ's. All this has, however, come about due to New Zealand's unwillingness to go to Nairobi. If it had travelled to Kenya then it would have been certain to qualify for the Super Six and even maybe top the table - with two crucial wins under its belt.

West Indies' sharing of points due to rain has also added to the openness because now West Indies stands a chance of elimination.

Who could have expected such a tight race!

Amongst the big four, West Indies after its initial flurry has flattered a bit (1 out of 2), Kiwis have bounced back in no uncertain terms (2 out of 3), SL is yet to succumb (1 out of 1) and SA has not taken off (0 out of 2).

But fortunately for the hosts they still have a chance to be competitive and have a chance to squeeze in but will they take it is open to discussion.

Given the current form it is highly unlikely. It is baffling the way the South Africans are going about things. It seems like there is an air of panic and unbelief roundabout, rendering them numb. We don't see anybody putting any thought process into the proceedings on the field or slowing down the pace of the game.

If they are losing in the World Cup it is not for lack of talent but for lack of character. Their inability to handle big pressure is evident. Unless they shake it off - and I don't know how they are going to do it, it is highly impossible that they will progress in the tournament.

As for West Indians they need to keep focused because they can easily go off track. With the kind of batting talent they have they could threaten any team. I suppose they need to draft in Samuels at the expense of an opener and fine tune a few other departments.

Sri Lankans are looking good and as long as Jayasuriya is in his elements they are a major threat. However, with two major games still to come it remains to be seen if they can hold good.

With regards to the New Zealanders, what can one say. It was simply marvelous the way they bounced back. Fleming, as it is, is a major influence as a captain and his coming good as a batsman is a huge gain for the New Zealanders.

A lot is at stake for the top four teams and the coming days are set to unfold a tense drama.

Various permutations and combinations of group 'B'

Keeping the weather aside and assuming that SA, SL, NZ and WI win against the smaller nations, Group 'B' is open to various permutations and combinations.

As of date, if Sri Lanka loses both its big matches (WI & SA) then it is possible it could find itself eliminated because then WI could end up with a maximum of 18, SA 16, SL16 and NZ 16.

SL needs to win at least one game or be dependent on run rate. (SL can get a maximum of 24 and a minimum of 16)

If West Indies loses its game against SL it could get eliminated if SA beats SL because that would mean maximum of 14 as against 20 to SL, 16 to SA, & NZ. But after having lost to SL if SA loses to SL then WI will go through because that would mean 24 to SL, 16 to NZ, 14 to WI and 12 to SA.

For WI it is win, lose or be dependent on another team; no run rate situation. It has to win against SL to make sure it is safe on 18 otherwise hope SL beats SA to put it above SA. (WI can get a maximum of 18 and a minimum of 14)

If South Africa loses against SL it's chucked out because as mentioned above that would mean 12 and the next possible lowest would be 14 that of WI. But if SA beats SL and WI also beats SL then it would mean 18 to WI and 16 to SL, SA & NZ, and the run rate will come into play. SA could also hope to go in straight as already mentioned above - that is if WI loses to SL and SA beat SL.

For SA it is lose, win or run rate. (SA can get a maximum of 16 or minimum of 12)

New Zealand is the only team whose points are a constant on 16. Its possible chance of elimination is only in the scenario where it is tied with SL and SA on 16 as mentioned above and the run rate comes into play.

So as of now nobody is a certainty for the Super Six and that's how open it is.

Note: Group 'A' is also still very open but I have chosen group 'B' because most of the big matches are done in this group while group 'A' is done with only three big matches and plenty more to come with Australia looking certain to top Group 'A'.


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