The long group phase for the 2015 Cricket World Cup is entering its final straight. And, while many of the major issues heading toward the quarterfinals have already been resolved, for several teams the jockeying for final positions in their pool goes on into the closing fixtures. For those who have already had their flights home confirmed, meanwhile, there is a chance to at least leave the competition on a high.
Here’s a look at the fixtures over the next few days.
Sri Lanka vs. Scotland (Bellerive Oval, Hobart, Tuesday, 11:30 p.m. EDT)
The four quarterfinalists have already been decided in Pool A, but Sri Lanka will be pushing to secure third place ahead of Bangladesh, while Scotland will want something to show for their efforts in the competition. Scotland have lost all four games thus far and also went winless in their two previous appearances at the World Cup. Having recorded key wins over England and Bangladesh to book their spot in the last eight, Sri Lanka will be aiming to build some momentum and perhaps more importantly avoid a continuation of a run of injuries that have already claimed four casualties.
South Africa vs. UAE (Wellington Regional Stadium , Wednesday, 9 p.m. EDT)
Other than Scotland, the only other team without a win in the World Cup are second-time participants the United Arab Emirates. After heavy defeats most recently to Pakistan and India, the chances look slim of the UAE getting off the mark against South Africa. Still, the tournament has not exactly gone as smoothly as might have been expected so far for a team that came in as one of the leading favorites. Defeat last time out against Pakistan, following on from an earlier mauling by India, means that a convincing win will be demanded in order to go some way to assuaging doubts that South Africa could once more fail to deliver on their undoubted talent.
Bangladesh vs. New Zealand (Seddon Park, Hamilton, Thursday, 9 p.m. EDT)
New Zealand have been imperious so far, winning all five games and only being pushed by fellow co-hosts Australia. Indeed, arguably the biggest threat to Brendon McCullum’s men so far has been an illness that has gone through the camp this week. Such is the quality throughout the squad, that it is unlikely to derail New Zealand in their final group game, despite the Black Caps having already confirmed top spot in Pool A. But Bangladesh will come into the fixture on a major high after recording one of the finest results in their history in beating England to book a spot in the quarterfinals and spark wild celebrations back home and praise from the country’s Prime Minister.
England vs. Afghanistan (Sydney Cricket Ground, Thursday, 11:30 p.m. EDT)
While Bangladesh savored a historic win, England were left counting the costs of another calamitous failure on the World Cup stage. With only a solitary victory against Scotland to their name from five matches in Australia and New Zealand, England’s exit was confirmed before their final group match. Extraordinarily, it is the third time in the last five World Cups that England have been sent home following the group phase, and serious questions have been raised about the country’s whole approach to the one-day game. Regardless of the result, the match against Afghanistan will do precious little to change that perception, but a convincing victory will certainly be keenly desired by under pressure coach Peter Moores and captain Eoin Morgan. After having already picked up their first win at a World Cup against Scotland, Afghanistan, though, will doubtless sense the opportunity for a famous upset.
TV channel: DISH Network, Mediacom and Time Warner Cable subscribers can watch every match via pay per view. More info here.