ODI WORLD CUP QUALIFICATION
West Indies need all three of Ireland, Sri Lanka, and South Africa to finish below them in order to gain direct qualification to next year’s 50-over World Cup ©AFP
With the second of the two T20 World Cups fast trailing away in the rear-view mirror, ODI cricket which was on the backburner post the World Cup in England in 2019 is now back in relevance. The ODI Super League, which began in July 2020, has been running in the background for more than two years now with nearly three fourths of the matches under its purview completed. New Zealand host India and Sri Lanka host Afghanistan in series starting on Friday (November 25). Here’s a refresher on the ODI Super League on how it has panned out thus far and where the teams stand in terms of securing a direct qualification for the World Cup next year in India.
What is this Super League all about?
It was an idea devised by ICC to provide relevance to bilateral ODI rubbers. The Super League blanketed some of the existing bilateral agreements that were part of the 2015-23 FTP, put points to wins, much like the World Test Championship. 13 sides (12 Full Members plus Netherlands) were part of the first iteration of Super League and India, along with the remaining top seven sides, automatically qualifying for the World Cup in India next year. The teams that finish bottom five in the table will have to go through a Qualifier in Zimbabwe in June 2023 for the two remaining slots.
Super League Points Table (as on Nov 24, 2022)
How much of Super League has been completed?
Each team was supposed to play 24 ODIs spread across eight series – four home and four away – adding to a total of 52 series. 38 of these 52 rubbers have been fully completed while South Africa and Netherlands have two matches left from their scheduled series last December. The series got postponed following the outbreak of the Omicron variant of covid-19, and will be completed in April 2023. Following the pandemic which delayed the start of the Super League, ICC has extended the deadline by 45 days to complete all the assignments.
West Indies are the only team to have finished all their assignments and are precariously placed eighth on the points table with 88 points. At the other end, we have Afghanistan who have played just 12 games with no clarity yet on their remaining series against India and Pakistan. Meanwhile, South Africa have forfeited their ODI series in Australia which was supposed to happen in January 2023 putting themselves in a sticky wicket as far as a direct qualification is considered.
Remaining series in ODI Super League
|Afghanistan||Aus, Pak||Ind, SL|
|Netherlands||–||Zim, SA (2)|
|New Zealand||Ind, SL||Pak|
|South Africa||–||Eng, Net (2)|
What are the prospects of qualification for the teams as of now?
Given how teams are placed currently and considering the matches in hand, 110 points should secure the ticket to India next October. The top five teams are all well clear of the 110-point mark while New Zealand are exactly on 110, and should qualify irrespective of their remaining results as long as they don’t incur any penalty overs. Afghanistan needs one win to get to 110 points and they have the more matches at their disposal than all other teams.
Zimbabwe and Netherlands, the two bottom placed teams currently, are all but eliminated for all practical purposes as both can at best finish on 75 points which won’t suffice. Ireland, Sri Lanka, and South Africa are the other three sides that is sitting at other three slots outside the top eight with their fortunes hanging by a thread. West Indies are currently placed at the eight position with 88 points and no more matches to play and would need all three of Ireland, Sri Lanka, and South Africa to finish below them. Ireland have only one series in hand – against Bangladesh at home – and a 3-0 win would take them to 98 points, and then they have to hope both South Africa and Sri Lanka don’t go past them on points.
Would this mean South Africa missing a direct qualification?
Yes, this is a possibility that is very much staring the Proteas in the eye. They lost four of the five series they played with the other one in Ireland ended up in a stalemate. On top of it, they decided to forego their series in Australia, robbing them the possibility of adding 30 more points to their tally. They have five matches left – two against Netherlands and three against England – all at home. South Africa would not only require winning at least four matches to go past West Indies who are on 88 points but also need Sri Lanka to drop points and finish below them. Sri Lanka currently have 62 points to South Africa’s 59 with a match in hand and if Sri Lanka win at least five games without incurring any penalty overs, they will finish on 112 points, ahead of South Africa who can get to at most 109 points.
How are the two imminent series going to change the equation?
Of the two rubbers, the one between Afghanistan and Sri Lanka is critical for the chances of both sides to progress. If Sri Lanka win the series 3-0, it will take them to the top eight with 92 points, just a win shy of Afghanistan who are now sitting on seventh spot with 100 points. Sri Lanka have one more series in hand after this in New Zealand and would want to gain as many as they could from their final home series to avoid last minute hassles. For Afghanistan, the remaining three series are all tougher assignments – India, Australia, and Pakistan – and like Sri Lanka, would want to win at least one game if not the series.
India have already qualified by the virtue of being the tournament hosts whereas a series win will take New Zealand to the safety net of 130 points or beyond. The remaining series for them are against Sri Lanka at home and in Pakistan.