World Cup matches you cannot miss

With most teams having played 4 games each, things are heating up in the group stages. As expected though, the cream has risen to the top—with the usual suspects (top 8) grinding their way up, giving a semblance of predictability to the table.

Here are the important upcoming matches that will have an adverse effect on the standings. It will be make-or-break for teams like England and Ireland, while others like India and South Africa have are fighting for top spot.

Pool B: March 7th
South Africa v/s Pakistan
Zimbabwe v/s Ireland

Pakistan and Ireland, two teams fighting for a quarterfinal spot in the same group, will play simultaneously on the weekend. Pakistan have won 2 out of their 4 games, losing to West Indies and India, and face their toughest test against South Africa. If they lose this, and Ireland win against Zimbabwe, the Pakistan v/s Ireland game will be a virtual pre-quarterfinal. That said, Ireland have a game in hand against Champions India too, and are in the driver’s seat as of now. They will want to repeat the upset of the 2007 World Cup, where they knocked out the Pakistanis in the group stage.

Pool A: March 8th
Australia v/s Sri Lanka
This will decide second spot in the tough group. Sri Lanka are on 6 points from their 4 games, losing only to New Zealand, and winning against Afghanistan, Bangladesh and England. Australia’s rained out game against Bangladesh has them on 5 points from 4 games, losing a close one to the Kiwis. The winner will probably finish second, and face either Pakistan, West Indies or Ireland in the quarterfinals—a favorable draw for sure. Australia are the favorites.

Pool A: March 9th
England v/s Bangladesh
Bangladesh’s single point against Australia have put them on 5 points, while England are languishing on 2 points of their 4 games. This is it for the English team, because a loss here—a high probability—could mean curtains for their 2015 campaign. Bangladesh are on a high after chasing down a record score against Scotland, and will look to break out of their ‘minnow’ status, and prove once and for all that 2007 was not a fluke. England also have Afghanistan to face, while Bangladesh face tournament favorites New Zealand in their final group game.

Pool B: March 15th
Pakistan v/s Ireland
West Indies, Pakistan and Ireland could finish on 6 points each if Pakistan win this one, and it could come down to NRR. This is a crucial game for both teams, and a win here assures them of a quarterfinal spot with both on 4 points each. West Indies have to defeat UAE too if they lose to India, to finish on 6 points.

Pool A could see an uninspired English team sneak through against Bangladesh. In 2011, England lost to Ireland and Bangladesh, but defeated South Africa and West Indies, tied against India to sneak through to the quarters.
Order: New Zealand, Australia, Sri Lanka, England

Pool B could see Ireland go through against Pakistan—a result most would love to see, considering Pakistan’s terrible cricket so far. Ireland were demolished by South Africa, but are still capable of competing with the best. Will they be able to hold their own in the business end?
Order: India, South Africa, West Indies, Ireland.

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