Such is the fanfare for an India vs Pakistan cricket match that organizers, regardless of the format, make sure to slot one in the group stage of every major ICC tournament. It is probably the first item on everyone's checklist while scheduling marquee events, and more so for the eager viewers and ticket-seekers. And hence, the cynosure of all eyes in the 2023 ODI World Cup was the clash of the arch-rivals at the Narendra Modi Stadium on October 14. (IND vs PAK Highlights | Report | Full Coverage)
The match proved to be yet another demonstration of India's dominance against the Men In Green in the ODI World Cup, as the record now stands at 8-0. But the fans want more. After the high of a group-stage face-off, they want the thrill of a knockout encounter too. But for that, Pakistan need to somehow qualify for the semi-finals first.
Rohit Sharma's men have not just confirmed their progression, but also assured themselves of a first-place finish in the league stage with eight wins out of the eight games they have played so far. This means that India will play the team finishing fourth in the points table. And Pakistan are vying for that very spot with New Zealand and Afghanistan.
Babar Azam's men are currently placed fifth with eight points from as many games. The Kiwis and Afghans too have the same number of points, but Kane Williamson's team has the best net run rate (NRR) of the trio (0.398), which puts it in the fourth spot and Afghanistan (-0.338) on sixth. Pakistan have a middling NRR of 0.036, which puts them in between the two.
Pakistan's last league game is against England on Saturday, November 11. Not only do Pakistan need to win that match, they also need New Zealand to lose their last group-stage game against Sri Lanka on Thursday, November 9. That will put the Men In Green in fourth place and seal a semis berth, unless Afghanistan win their last match against South Africa by a huge margin.
In case New Zealand and Pakistan both win their respective last games, the NRR will come into consideration and hence Pakistan will have to beat England by a massive margin to overtake the Kiwis. Again, Afghanistan can mathematically still surpass both teams but that will take sone doing.
The good news for Pakistan is that their match will be played a couple of days after that of New Zealand, which means they will know exactly what the equation is for them to qualify. As for Indian fans, they will all wait with bated breath to see what happens, and who is the home team's semi-final opponent.