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‘I want Pakistan to qualify for World Cup semi-final’: Ganguly’s bold claim | Cricket


‘I want Pakistan to qualify for World Cup semi-final’: Ganguly’s bold claim | Cricket


India was the first team to qualify for World Cup 2023 semi-finals when they beat Sri Lanka in Mumbai. Then they hammered second-placed South Africa to ensure they would finish on top of the points table at the end of the league stage. Brutal, lethal, ruthless… India have been on a roll at this World Cup, winning 8 matches in a row. But who will they face in the semi-finals? That is yet to be confirmed. As per ICC playing conditions, the top-ranked team at the points table faces the four-ranked team in the semi-finals. With Australia and South Africa confirmed to play the semi-final with each other, India’s opponents would be either Pakistan or New Zealand or Afghanistan. The others – Sri Lanka, England, Bangladesh, and Netherlands have no chance of qualifying for the knockout stages.

Former Indian Cricket Captain and BCCI President Sourav Ganguly(Hindustan Times)
Former Indian Cricket Captain and BCCI President Sourav Ganguly(Hindustan Times)

Depending on the opponents, the date and venue of India’s semi-final would also change. If it is against New Zealand or Afghanistan, then India’s semi-final will be played at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on November 15 but if Pakistan qualify, then India will play the semi-final at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on November 16. That the venue of Pakistan’s semi-final would be Kolkata irrespective of their standings and opponent, was determined before the tournament started.

And that is one of the biggest reasons why former India captain Sourav Ganguly wants a blockbuster an India vs Pakistan semi-final. His home turf Eden Gardens, which hosted an IND vs PAK T20 World Cup match in 2016, would get to host India in the knockout stage of this World Cup only if Pakistan qualify.

“I want Pakistan to reach the semi-finals and play India. It can’t be a bigger semi-final than that,” Ganguly told Sports Tak.

The former BCCI president is also aware of the demand for tickets an India vs Pakistan semi-final may bring. In the group match against South Africa, there were FIRs, arrests, multiple complaints and an unimaginable demand for tickets. It can beat that craze if an India vs Pakistan semi-final is confirmed.

What are Pakistan, New Zealand and Afghanistan’s qualification scenarios

As things stand, New Zealand appear to have a slight edge over Afghanistan and Pakistan due to their higher net run rate (+0.398). A win against Sri Lanka in their last group-stage match in Bengaluru would more or less confirm their spot in the semis. But if they lose or the match is washed out – there is a high chance of heavy rain in Bengaluru on Thursday – then it will open the doors for both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

If New Zealand slip or there is a washout, Pakistan would fancy their chances. All they would need to do is beat England on Sunday to advance to the semi-final. Their net run rate (0.036) is lower than New Zealand but much higher than Afghanistan’s (-0.338). The latter would need a huge win over South Africa to beat Pakistan on net run rate (this is considering New Zealand don’t win their last match). If Pakistan beat England by a run, then Afghanistan will have to beat South Africa by 140 runs to go past Pakistan’s NRR.

‘India are playing fantastic cricket’: Ganguly

Ganguly said he doesn’t want to jinx India’s chances as they have been playing some outstanding cricket throughout the tournament.

“No, it won’t be a shock (if this Indian team doesn’t win the World Cup). It doesn’t happen in sports like that. The entire nation is happy with the way India is playing. The way they have played in the 8 games, it appears that there is a big gap from the rest of the teams. I hope they keep playing like this. I don’t think the level will drop so drastically that they will suddenly start playing poor cricket. Fingers crossed, they are looking very good.”


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