South Africa takes on West Indies on Friday; weekend matches include India v Pakistan in Birmingham and England v New Zealand in Cardiff
After eight exciting matches in the ICC Champions Trophy 2013, it has all come down to the final four first round fixtures with three semi-final spots still up for grabs. The knock-out matches will be played at The Oval and Cardiff Wales Stadium on 19 and 20 June, respectively while Edgbaston will stage the final on 23 June.
The event is set to reach an audience of 1.5 billion, thanks to new and extended agreements secured by STAR Sports.
Sri Lanka’s victory over England at The Oval yesterday (Thursday) has thrown Group A wide open as all the four sides are in with a chance to reach the last four.
Group A permutations are:
If England wins on Sunday, it will qualify for the semi-final while New Zealand will only progress if Australia beats Sri Lanka on Monday but fails to improve its net run-rate. In other words, Australia need to not only improve its net run-rate, but make it superior to New Zealand in order to qualify, should the Black Caps lose to England.
If New Zealand wins on Sunday, it will top the group and England will be eliminated as Monday’s winner of Australia-Sri Lanka match will become the second side to reach the knock-out stage If Sunday’s and Monday’s matches are washed out, then New Zealand will win the group while England finish second.
The position in Group B is simple and straightforward. India, after its victories over South Africa and the West Indies, has qualified for the semi-final leaving South Africa and West Indies in a winner-takes-all match in Cardiff on Friday.
For South Africa, it will be the second match in Cardiff after it lost the tournament opener to India by 26 runs but not after scoring 305 after being set a target of 332. On the contrary, the West Indies played both its earlier matches at The Oval – defeating Pakistan by one wicket and losing to India by eight wickets.
Both South Africa and West Indies are sitting on two points each but the Proteas have their nose ahead on net run-rate. As such, Dwayne Bravo’s men will be praying for a complete match so that they can take a shot at AB de Villiers’s side otherwise they’ll lose out on net run-rate.
Cardiff Wales Stadium, in addition to the tournament opener, also staged a nail-biting thriller between New Zealand and Sri Lanka in which the Black Caps pulled off a narrow one wicket victory. This sets up the possibility of a highly competitive and close-contested match on Friday.
After Friday’s much-awaited match, traditional rivals India and Pakistan will go head to head in a mouth-watering contest in Birmingham at Edgbaston on Saturday.
India may have already qualified for the last four, the venue and opponent in their semi-final could be dependent on their result against Pakistan. If India wins, it will top Group B and will play in Cardiff on 20 June while it will play at The Oval on 19 June if it finishes second.
Although the match will have no bearing on Pakistan’s prospects in the tournament, any match between these two sides is bound to provide high levels of excitement, thrill and quality of cricket. This is also the match whose tickets were soldout in just three hours after being put on sale on 6 November 2012.
With India posing one of the finest batting line-ups in the tournament and Pakistan considered to possess the strongest bowling attack, this match is being billed as a fight between bat and ball. In the ongoing tournament, India opener Shikhar Dhawan is the highest run-getter with 216 runs that includes 22 fours and two sixes. Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq is third with 151 runs, while Dhawan’s opening partner Rohit Sharma is occupying fifth position after cracking half-centuries against South Africa and the West Indies.
In the bowling, India spinner Ravindra Jadeja has seven wickets and is in second spot while Pakistan’s tall and lanky Mohammad Irfan is his side’s leading wicket-taker with four wickets, Saeed Ajmal has claimed three wickets to date.
Pakistan has dominated India in the ICC Champions Trophy having won both its previous encounters – by three wickets at Edgbaston in 2004 and then by 54 runs at Centurion in 209. Overall, the two powerhouses of cricket have faced each other in ODI cricket 124 times with Pakistan winning 71 matches, India emerging triumphant 49 times with four matches producing no-result.
Reliance ICC ODI Championship Meanwhile, Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s side has strengthened its number-one position on the Reliance ICC ODI Championship table. India had entered the tournament on 119 ratings points and has moved to 120 – thanks to its victories over South Africa and West Indies.
India now leads its closed rival Australia by six ratings points, while South Africa and England are on 113 ratings points each but the Proteas are above ranked England by a fraction of a point.
The Reliance ICC ODI Player Rankings will be released after the conclusion of the first round matches on Tuesday 18 June while the ODI predictor function is available here.
Forthcoming matches (first round):
Friday 14 June – West Indies v South Africa (d), Cardiff Wales Stadium
Saturday 15 June – India v Pakistan (d), Edgbaston
Sunday 16 June – England v New Zealand (d), Cardiff Wales Stadium
Monday 17 June – Australia v Sri Lanka (d/n), The Oval
Wednesday 19 June – A1 v B2 (d), The Oval
Thursday 20 June – B1 v A2 (d), Cardiff Wales Stadium
Sunday 23 June – Edgbaston (d)
Reliance ICC ODI Championship (as on 13 June) (after England-Sri Lanka match in the ICC Champions Trophy 2013)
Rank Team Rating
1 India 120 (+1)
2 Australia 114 (-2)
3 South Africa 113 (-)
4 England 113 (-)
5 Sri Lanka 108 (-)
6 Pakistan 103 (-2)
7 New Zealand 89 (+2)
8 West Indies 87 (+1)
9 Bangladesh 75
10 Zimbabwe 55
11 Ireland 39
12 Netherlands 14
13 Kenya 11