Cricket World Cup organisers face a second half of the tournament plagued with potential dead rubbers with the race for semifinals seemingly down to five, reports https://www.stuff.co.nz/sport.
Australia, India, New Zealand and England already appear likely to be semi-finals bound, while Bangladesh could still mount a late charge after their seven-wicket defeat of the West Indies in Taunton on Monday.
South Africa, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are still mathematical chances, but would likely need to win all their remaining games, meaning their faint hopes could be extinguished this week. Afghanistan, tipped by many to be a banana-skin game for many of the world's best, are yet to win a game.
It comes after the International Cricket Council (ICC) moved to a 10-team World Cup this year after 14 countries played in the 2015 tournament.
Despite that, the tightest games of the tournament so far have been Pakistan's 14-run win over England and New Zealand's effort to scrape home by two wickets against Bangladesh. Four of the remaining 23 matches could now have no influence on the finals, which don't begin until July 09.
West Indies' clashes with Sri Lanka and Afghanistan threaten to have no bearing, as does Afghanistan against Pakistan and South Africa's clash with Sri Lanka.
South Africa's date with Pakistan at Lord's on June 23 could fall into the same category, but at least has the added interest that the loser is officially out of contention.
Meanwhile, the Black Caps next play the West Indies, Pakistan, Australia and England.
Australia at least have a big finish coming up, with games against England and New Zealand to play a big role in determining their finishing position for the finals after tomorrow's (Thursday) clash with Bangladesh.
They also have a dangerous South Africa to finish in Manchester, before first plays fourth and second meets third in the semifinals to decide who walks out onto Lord's in the final on July 14.
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