Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and West Indies — amongst these four teams, the cricket world is currently witnessing a cat and mouse race for the direct qualification for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. The next few months are going to be crucial for them as considering the current ranking situation, it seems only three of them will be able to keep their place in the top eight till the cut-off date.
According to the newly implemented rules of the ICC, along with host England, seven other top teams in the ODI ranking on September 30, 2017, will directly qualify for the next World Cup, which will be a 12-team event. The four other teams will be selected from the 10-team qualifying tournament in 2018, which will take place in Bangladesh.
The Mashrafe Mortaza-led Bangladesh, who are involved in three-match series against Sri Lanka at this point of time, are now in the seventh position with 91 rating points. They are just seven points behind sixth-ranked Sri Lanka (98) and have already won the first match at Dambulla.
On the other hand, West Indies and Pakistan will be keeping a close eye on this series in Sri Lanka as both are also in the danger zone. Pakistan are in the eighth position with 89 points, just two points behind Bangladesh, while the two-time former world champions West Indies are languishing at the ninth slot with 84 points. These two teams will face each other in a three-match ODI series from April 7-11.
A 3-0 series win for Bangladesh will almost seal the deal
If Bangladesh win their next two ODIs in Sri Lanka, they will replace the 1996 World Champion from the sixth position and it will put the Lankans under a tricky situation. Their fortunes will then depend on the how Pakistan and West Indies perform in their respective series, as till Champions Trophy Sri Lanka are not playing anymore ODI.
Meanwhile, a 2-1 result for Bangladesh will keep them at No. 7 and even a 3-0 for Pakistan against West Indies won’t be enough to replace Mortaza and co. from their position. Also, according to ICC’s Future Tour Program (FTP) in the next few months, the Tigers will play a tri-series in Ireland (against the hosts and New Zealand) and the Champions Trophy, which means they will get enough chances to hold onto their place in top eight.
The crucial West Indies vs Pakistan series
Whereas the fortunes of West Indies and Pakistan will largely depend on next months’ three ODIs. A 2-1 or 3-0 series win for Pakistan will secure their eighth spot for now but West Indie are scheduled to play a five-match ODI series in England before the deadline. So the Caribbean boys will get another crack to achieve the required rating points. Remember, they have already failed to qualify for this year’s Champions Trophy and will be hungry for success.
Thus, after looking at all these permutations and combinations, it seems Bangladesh, the only non-world-champion team amongst the four danger-zoned sides, have their noses ahead in this race for qualification.