England and New Zealand head into their final World Cup group match on Wednesday, where the winning team will step into the semi-finals. Even losing team would not spell the end of chances of emerging as one of the top four.
Were England to lose in Chester-le-Street, Pakistan have a chance to leapfrog them into the top four with victory over Bangladesh.
They play each other in their final pool match, only one of Bangladesh — who also still have to face India — or Pakistan can draw level with New Zealand in the event the Black Caps lose on Wednesday.
And, with both Asian teams well behind on net run-rate, it would take a big New Zealand loss allied to a commanding Pakistan victory or two Bangladesh wins by big margins, to deny the 2015 losing finalists a place in the last four.
But right now, England and New Zealand’s World Cup destiny is in their own hands. England travel to the northeast buoyed by a 31-run win over an India side that were previously unbeaten. Although it is believed that India spared the match for England so throw away arch-rival Pakistan and Bangladesh from the tournament.
Sunday’s success against India, the team that recently replaced England at the top of the one-day international rankings, came after back-to-back defeats by Sri Lanka and reigning champions Australia had led many pundits to question their tournament nerve and nous.
But there is a simple equation in front of the two teams, win the match and step into the semis. But a lose will hang their fate.