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India's Virat Kohli bats during the T20 World Cup cricket match between India and Pakistan in Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, October 23, 2022. India and Pakistan are scrambling for a semifinal slot from Group 2, and that will be known only after the games on Sunday. Image Credit: AP

Did the South Africa loss put India’s semifinal hopes in jeopardy? No, not at all. In fact, it’s very clear. There’s no need to reach for the calculator. India just have to beat Zimbabwe on Sunday. That’s it. It will help India top Group 2 with eight points and enter the last-four phase of the T20 World Cup.

Even if the game against Zimbabwe is rained off, India will qualify for the semis. That’s because South Africa are the only other team that could garner seven points.

Anas Thacharpadikkal/Gulf News

But if India is beaten by Zimbabwe, it could put them out of the tournament. If that happens, South Africa could top the group with a win over the Netherlands, who are dawdling at the bottom of the group.

That would bring Pakistan into the picture, provided they quell the challenge of Bangladesh. Not just that. The Babar Azam-led team will vault into second place behind South Africa with six points as they have a superior run rate than India’s. Which means India (six points) will crash out of the tournament.

India’s exit will be Pakistan’s gain. That will open a route for Pakistan to enter the semifinals. For that, they will have to beat Bangladesh without dropping their run rate below India’s. Bangladesh can be formidable opponents, as India found out on Wednesday, but this Pakistan side is far too strong for Shakib Al Hasan’s team.

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* South Africa’s game against Zimbabwe was abandoned due to rain, and the teams shared two points. That’s how the Proteas have five points. Image Credit: Vijith Pulikkal/Gulf News

So Pakistan must beat Bangladesh and await the outcome of India’s game against Zimbabwe. That would be a tense wait. Both India and Pakistan can qualify for the last four only if they win their games and South Africa stumble against minnows the Netherlands. An unlikely event.

India’s option is simple: Beat Zimbabwe. Never mind the margin of victory. Even a slender win would be enough. There’s no threat of rain in Melbourne on Sunday. All Rohit Sharma’s team need to do is to put in a good performance. Good enough to overcome the Zimbabwe hurdle, and they can waltz into the next round.

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Sunday is a triple header in the World Cup. First, South Africa go up against the Netherlands in Adelaide, followed by Pakistan’s match against Bangladesh on the same strip. Then they await the India-Zimbabwe tie at the MCG.

This has been a thrilling World Cup. No team has remained unbeaten. And the semifinalists will be decided on the last day of Super 12 matches.

Dare to pick a winner?