The final round of group matches in the Women’s World Cup are tonight and especially in Group A there is a lot for which to play. Unfortunately, the matches are not being played simultaneously. I criticised the tournament format in my preview and this is another poor decision by the organisers. India and Sri Lanka will now have the benefit of knowing the result of the England v West Indies match before their ends and that should not happen.
Those matches are in the more interesting Group A. Sri Lanka’s shock win over England means that all the teams in the group are level on two points and the only difference at the moment is Net Run Rate. (And in a quirk of statistics, since every team have both bowled and batted exactly 100 overs the NRRs are just the run differentials for each team divided by 100.) The West Indies’ crushing win over Sri Lanka wiped out their heavy defeat to India and then some, putting them top of the table with a NRR of +1.04. They’re followed by India and England on +0.73 and +0.26 respectively and Sri Lanka still sit at the foot of the table on -2.03.
The practical upshot of this is that whichever two teams win tonight are guaranteed to go through and whichever of the two losers has the best NRR will join them in the Super Sixes. All four teams could theoretically go out with a loss and the other result going against them, but the danger is greater for England in Sri Lanka than it is for India and the West Indies. In fact, the only realistic way for Sri Lanka to progress is to beat India. Any loss and their NRR is so bad that they will go out. It’s not, therefore, quite a must-win match for England. But if England don’t win then they will be relying on India in the late match because if India lose they would have to do so by a lot to end up with a worse NRR than England. For the same reason, a win for the West Indies will probably make India safe. The most likely way for them to go out is to lose to Sri Lanka and have the West Indies lose to England by a reasonable margin, though if they lose very heavily to Sri Lanka (by enough to send their NRR under that of England) they could go out even with a West Indies win. It’s quite unlikely though. The West Indies are the safest team at the moment; they would need to lose heavily to England and have India narrowly beaten by Sri Lanka to go out.
The other interesting aspect of the last round of matches in Group A is the points carried forward. If England beat the West Indies and Sri Lanka go out then England will actually carry forward maximum points despite their early defeat. The only other team capable of doing so is Sri Lanka and that is quite unlikely as it would require the West Indies to be eliminated. There is no way for India to advance, however, without having lost to one of the other teams to go through and it is very unlikely that the West Indies could do so either. They would have to beat England narrowly and have India lose very heavily to Sri Lanka to send India out.
In Group B things are much simpler. Australia and New Zealand are already through and the winner of the antipodean clash will carry maximum points forward to the Super Sixes. On form, one would actually expect the White Ferns to win; they have dominated their group matches so far whilst Australia have had minor scares against both of their opponents. But Australia have had the better of the recent head-to-head matches, so it should be a very interesting match.
The other match in the group is probably the more important though; Pakistan and South Africa will play each other for the last spot in the Super Sixes. I said in my preview that I though South Africa would pull off a minor upset and I still think that will be the case, but there is not a lot from which to choose between the sides.
My guess is that we will end up seeing England, the West Indies, India and South Africa join Australia and New Zealand in the next round, but there are some good looking matches and it should be very interesting.