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Pakistan players celebrate the dismissal of New Zealand opener Devon Conway in Bengluru on Saturday. The win against Black Caps brought Pakistan back into the running for a place in the semifinals. Image Credit: ANI

Dubai: New Zealand’s clinical five-wicket win over Sri Lanka has left Pakistan with an improbable task of beating England with a whopping margin if they have to make the semi-finals and book a meeting with hosts India in the Cricket World Cup.

Giant-killers Afghanistan’s campaign will come to an end with the final league match against South Africa in Ahmedabad on Friday.

The Black Caps have improved their net run-rate from 0.743 from 0.398 by defeating Sri Lanka with plenty of overs to spare. After restricting Sri Lanka to a low score of 171, the 2019 finalists reached the target in 23.2 overs. Openers Devon Conway and Rachin Ravindra gave New Zealand a brisk with Daryl Mitchell providing the finishing touches.

Four-match losing run ends for Kiwis

Earlier, Trent Boult struck early to push Sri Lanka on the backfoot with Lockie Ferguson, Mitchell Santner and Rachin Ravindra all getting two wickets each to dismiss Sri Lanka to 171 in 46.4 overs. Kusal Perera, who was dropped early by Tom Latham off Tim Southee, capitalised on the reprieve to score a half-century as Maheesh Theekshana showcased his batting capabilities with an unbeaten 38 to give the Islanders a respectable score. The victory ended New Zealand’s four-match losing streak after four straight wins at the start of the tournament.

Pakistan will need beat England by 288 runs if they bat first, while batting second, Babar Azam’s men need to overhaul any target in 2.3 overs, according to BCCI statistician Mohandas Menon.

Opener Fakhar Zaman’s unbeaten 126 helped Pakistan beat New Zealand by Duckworth-Lewis method in Bengaluru. The victory brought the Green Shirts level with New Zealand on eight points, giving them a faint chance of booking a place in the semifinals. However, Pakistan’s current net run-rate stands at 0.036 against New Zealand’s 0.743.

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Afghanistan players during a practice session on the eve of their final league match against South Africa in Ahmedabad on Thursday. Image Credit: AFP

Magnificent double century

With eight points, Afghanistan, who have a negative run rate, will not be able to overhaul the net run-rate of New Zealand even if they beat South Africa.

Afghanistan could be proud of their efforts after defeating defending champions England and former champions Pakistan and Sri Lanka. They had five-time champions Australia on the mat before Glenn Maxwell’s magnificent unbeaten double century ended their semi-final hopes.

Hosts India are more likely to meet New Zealand in the semi-finals in Mumbai on Wednesday, while Australia will take on South Africa in the second semi-final in Kolkata on Thursday.