Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Kenya make World Cup semi final, and an odd observation about the tied Sri Lanka v South Africa game.

Today Kenya played Zimbabwe. A win for the Kenyans today meant they would be certain of a place in the semi-finals. A loss meant that they could still miss out if New Zealand beat India and Sri Lanka beat Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe batted first, and were bowled out for an unimpressive 133. It would have been much worse, if not for 63 from Andy Flower, who has (very sadly) announced that he will not be playing for Zimbabwe after this tournament. Kenya in reply made the target easily, losing only three wickets and winning with 24 overs to spare. Kenya didn't just win - they won very well. A great effort by them. Kenya will now meet India in the semi final in Durban on March 20. The other semi-final will be between Australia and either Sri Lanka or New Zealand in Port Elizabeth on March 18. If Sri Lanka beat Zimbabwe and India beat New Zealand, Sri Lanka will be the other semi-finalist. Any other combination of results will mean that New Zealand goes through. (That is excluding ties and no results. Strictly speaking, Sri Lanka must score more points than New Zealand from their last matches to go through. Otherwise New Zealand go through). India now have an easy semi-final against Kenya, whereas Australia have another tough game in Port Elizabeth, perhaps against New Zealand again.

Kenya are not actually one of the four best teams to play in the tournament, but their efforts have still been impressive. If it were not for New Zealand defaulting against them, they would not have made the Super Six. If it were not for South Africa failing to make the Super Six, they would not have carried over so many points into the Super Six. If it were not for England's default to Zimbabwe, Kenya would not have had a relatively easy game against Zimbabwe today, and Kenya would not have made the semi-finals. With their win over Sri Lanka, Kenya have shown that on a good day they can beat quality opposition. Kenya, who do not have test status, have also demonstrated that they are clearly a better side than both Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, both of who do have test status. As I was saying the other day, this is unfair and something has to be done about it.

An interesting observation is that if Sri Lanka had beaten South Africa (rather than tied) in their last pool game, then Sri Lanka would now be in a much stronger position, and would be close to certain to pick up the last semi-final place. Sri Lanka's chances of making the semi-finals have been hurt quite significantly by the fact that the South Africa game was only tied. There has been lots of nonsense written about how South Africa were "robbed" by the rain in that game, but South Africa were by no means certain to win that game if it was completed. It may be that in a couple of days time, Sri Lanka will be equally entitled to claim that they were "robbed" of a semi-final spot by the same rain in the same game.

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