India are likely to face Bangladesh in the quarterfinals of the World Cup 2015 on March 19 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).
The quarterfinals encounter between the two teams got more-or-less confirmed after New Zealand defeated Bangladesh by three wickets on Friday. The only 'magical' result that can stop this from happening is an Australian defeat in the hands of hapless Scotland, that too with a huge margin such that Australia's net run rate (+1.597) dips below Bangladesh's NRR (+0.136).
Ignoring such a drastic defeat, we can safely assume that India will be facing Bangladesh in the quarterfinals.
That said, it is interesting to note that none of the other quarterfinal slots are sealed as of now as the position of the teams in Pool B is yet to be sealed.
Even though cricket is a game of glorious uncertainty, some results can be guessed based on past matches and the current form of a team.
So let us explain the expected outcomes of the remaining matches and come up with what the quarter-final timetable would frame out to be.
There are four games remaining in the league round of this World Cup.
Mar 14 - India vs Zimbabwe
The outcome of this match is not of importance as it will not play any role in deciding the sequencing of first four teams from each group.
Mar 14 - Australia vs Scotland
As discussed above, a brutal Australian defeat in the hands of the Scottish may push Bangladesh to the third spot. But whom are we kidding, Australia are dead-on favourites to win and that would take them to second spot in Pool A.
Mar 15 - Pakistan vs Ireland
Now, this is one of those matches where predictions take a back seat. Both the teams have their pluses and minuses and with Pakistan’s topsy-turvy form, it is very tough to say that a particular side will win. However, we will stick our necks out to predict a Pakistan win based on the following factors.
1. Pakistan has a weak batting line-up but Ireland doesn't have a bowling star who can make use of this. In the five matches Ireland have played in this World Cup, the opposing batsmen have crossed 400 once and 300 twice. The Irish allowed Zimbabwe to score 326 and won by just 5 runs. Even UAE were allowed to score 278, a match which Ireland eventually won by 2 wickets with just 4 balls to spare.
2. Ireland are no pushovers with the bat but Pakistan's charged-up bowling attack is raring and in full-form. Zimbabwe were all-out for 215 and UAE were restricted to 210 against Pakistan in the league games. In their most recent high-profile encounter, Pakistani bowlers proved their mettle by claiming all South African wickets for a meagre 202.
3. So it's Pakistan's weak batting vs Ireland's weak bowling and Pakistan's strong bowling vs Ireland's good batting. If Ireland had a stronger batting line-up, then this encounter would have got a 50:50 tag. But as of now the compass is leaning towards a narrow win for Pakistan. Thus a close Pakistani win would put them in third slot in Pool B.
Mar 15 - West Indies Vs UAE
A West Indies victory is more-or-less assured. But the victory has to be big. If Chris Gayle or any of the big-hitters go after the UAE bowling and they get a massive victory, then their NRR goes beyond Pakistan and Ireland. However, they can only secure fourth place in Pool B since they will be on 6 points. If Pakistan win the Ireland encounter, a mere win against UAE would suffice. But if Ireland beat Pakistan, then the Windies will need a big win. It all depends on Gayle and Co.
But since we are predicting a Pakistan win, West Indies would most probably get the fourth place in Pool B, as a mere win would place it on the same number of points as that of Ireland. And Ireland's NRR (-1.014) is bad compared to West Indies’ NRR (-0.511). With a win, the Windies' NRR would be boosted further. But as they can't surpass Pakistan on points, they would stay in the fourth slot.
Thus, here is our prediction for the World Cup quarter-finals:
QF 1 | Mar 18, 9am IST | Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG)
QF 2 | Mar 19, 9am IST | Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG)
QF 3 | Mar 20, 9am IST | Adelaide Oval
QF 4 | Mar 21, 6.30am IST | Westpac Stadium, Wellington
If you do not agree, comment or tweet us your predictions @htsportsnews