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Group 1 scenarios: South Africa strong contenders to join England in semi-finals

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Australia very much in the fray but their NRR is against them, while West Indies have left themselves a mountain to climb

South Africa’s dominant win over Bangladesh have made them serious contenders for a semi-final spot, from Group 1, while Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are now out of the race. Here is how the teams in the group stack up, with just four more games left to play.

South Africa
Played: 4, Points: 6, NRR: 0.742, Remaining match: vs England

South Africa’s big win over Bangladesh has lifted their NRR to 0.742, which is well ahead of third-placed Australia’s -0.627. However, Australia have two games to go – against Bangladesh and West Indies – and if they win both they can get up to eight points.

But Australia play both their matches before the England vs South Africa game, so South Africa would know exactly what they need to do to qualify. And if they score 160 and beat England by 81 runs, they will go past England’s NRR.

Australia
Played: 3, Points: 4, NRR: -0.627, Remaining matches: vs Bangladesh, West Indies

Australia’s poor NRR means it would be very difficult for them to challenge South Africa if both finish on six points: if Australia win a game by 60 runs and lose another by just one run, they will still need South Africa to lose to England by at least 32 runs to go past them on NRR (assuming the team batting first scores 160 each time).

Similarly, if there is a three-way tie at eight points, it will be tough for Australia. Even if South Africa win by just one run, Australia would need a combined margin of 92 runs across their two wins to go past South Africa’s NRR. Thus, Australia’s best bet is to win their last two games, and hope that England defeat South Africa.

West Indies
Played: 3, Points: 2, NRR: -1.598, Remaining matches: vs Sri Lanka, Australia

South Africa’s win against Bangladesh means West Indies’ qualification chances have taken a severe beating. The best they can finish on is six points, and their current NRR is a dire -1.598, while South Africa are already on six with an NRR of 0.742. Even if West Indies win their last two games by a combined margin of 120 runs, they will need South Africa to lose by at least 22 runs to go past them on NRR (assuming the teams batting first score 160 each time). The qualification prospects aren’t looking good for the defending champions.

England
Played: 4, Points: 8, NRR: 3.183, Remaining match: vs South Africa

England are well on the way to topping the group. As mentioned earlier, if South Africa score 160 and beat England by 81 runs, England’s NRR will drop to 1.406, a touch below South Africa’s. For Australia to get anywhere near this number, they have to win their last two games by a combined margin of around 160 runs. Given the form England have been in, it is highly unlikely they will finish anywhere other than the top of the table.

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. @rajeshstats

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