International Cricket Council (ICC) Cricket World Cup 2019 Trophy. File photo/ Reuters
India and New Zealand are the only teams still unbeaten in the Cricket World Cup and both are in action on Saturday as the tournament moves into its 24th day.
India takes on Afghanistan at the Rose Bowl in Southampton in the opening Game, and New Zealand plays West Indies in a day-night match at Manchester’s Old Trafford.
Two-time champion India and 2015 finalist New Zealand have won all their Games except for a washout between the two teams.
India and Afghanistan have never met at the World Cup. India is the heavy favorite, having won 14 of its last 15 CWC matches. Afghanistan has lost all five matches in this edition.
New Zealand and West Indies know each other well at the World Cup. New Zealand holds the upper hand with a 4-3 record, including wins in their last three meetings. West Indies won the tournament in 1975 and ‘79.
New Zealand can move above competition leader and defending champion Australia in the 10-team standings with a win. India can leapfrog third-place England and will still have a Game in hand on its nearest rivals.
Rain is unlikely to disturb either match. The weather forecast is dry and sunny at Manchester with temperatures as high as 22 Celsius (71 Fahrenheit), with Southampton slightly cooler but still dry.
Australia and India will be aiming to finish top of the World Cup league phase and so avoid facing hosts England in the semi-finals as they prepare for the final day of round-robin matches.
It was a superb display by the underdog Black Caps, who came into the match on the back of three straight defeats by Pakistan, Australia and England and only qualified for the semi-finals on net run-rate, while India topped the 10-team group stage.
Cricket-mad Indians tried on Thursday to come to terms with their shock World Cup exit, with the Times of India telling readers “The Sun will still rise tomorrow” and Ravindra Jadeja emerging as a new national hero.
India’s one-day side have learned to be tougher when they lose the toss following the heartbreak of a World Cup semi-final defeat, said captain Virat Kohli said after winning the one-day series against Australia.
Andrew Landry squandered a six-shot back-nine lead on Sunday but finished with back-to-back birdies to win the PGA Tour American Express in La Quinta, California, by two shots.
England were held up by a last wicket stand of 99 between Keshav Maharaj (71) and Dane Paterson (39 not out) and it needed a direct-hit run-out by Sam Curran from mid-on to clinch the result shortly before lunch. South Africa were bowled out for 237.