PANAJI: An impressive five-wicket win over Sri Lanka has almost confirmed New Zealand’s berth in the semi-finals of the ICC World Cup 2023 on Thursday. Finalists in the 2019 and 2015 editions of the ICC World Cup, Kane Williamson and Co. have virtually dumped Pakistan out of the showpiece event by defeating Sri Lanka at the M.Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru. Though Pakistan are yet to ‘officially’ bow out of the competition, Babar and Co. have to win their final league game with an unattainable margin in the 50-over format.
Babar and Co. will meet Jos Buttler’s England in their final league match of the ICC World Cup on Saturday. Since fifth-placed Pakistan are staring at an improbable situation to enter the next round, fourth-ranked New Zealand are tipped to retain their current position on the World Cup points table after the end of round-robin phase. New Zealand are ahead of Pakistan on Net-Run-Rate (NRR) although Pakistan have a game in hand.
World Cup hosts India, record-time champions Australia and free-scoring South Africa have already sealed their spots for the semi-final stage of the 50-over spectacle. Five-time winners Australia will meet South Africa in the second semi-final of the World Cup. With New Zealand in all likelihood set to become the fourth side to enter the semi-finals, Williamson and Co. can look forward to meeting Rohit Sharma’s Team India in the heavyweight clash at Mumbai.
‘Playing the home team will be challenging’
When asked about New Zealand’s potential meeting with India, Williamson said that he is wary of facing the most successful team of the World Cup 2023 in the semi-finals. India ended its 20-year jinx in ICC events by hammering New Zealand earlier in the league phase of the World Cup. Team India is also the only side that is undefeated at the World Cup 2023. “Playing semis is special but playing the home team will be challenging. Looking forward to it if we are fortunate enough to have it,” Williamson said after New Zealand defeated Sri Lanka by 5 wickets.
Under the leadership of Williamson, New Zealand outclassed India in the semi-final stage of the 2019 World Cup. “There’s a few teams that could end up on similar points. (That is) not in our control. We will be having a couple of days off, not sure what’s happening,” he added. Before meeting New Zealand in the rematch of the World Cup 2019, Rohit and Co. are set to lock horns with the Netherlands in their final league on Sunday.