Cricket World Cup: teams getting down to the business end

The only remaining unbeaten teams at the Cricket World Cup — India and New Zealand — hope to consolidate their already strong positions as the tournament moves into the final week of preliminary matches.

Defending champion India, in first place in Pool B after three wins, can clinch a quarterfinal place with a win Friday over the West Indies at Perth, Western Australia. Under sunny skies at the WACA ground, West Indies captain Jason Holder won the toss and elected to bat first.

“Looks like a good wicket,” Holder said. “We want to put the runs on the board, and it’s just up to us to defend it.”

The West Indies, however, was having trouble putting up those runs, 71-5 after 20 overs, losing two early wickets before star batsman Chris Gayle was out for 21.

On Saturday, South Africa, level on six points with India but with three wins from four matches, will hope to keep pace when it plays Pakistan at Auckland, New Zealand. In the other match Saturday, Ireland and Zimbabwe, which played to a rare tie the last — and only — time the teams met at a World Cup, will play each at Hobart on the island state of Tasmania. Both teams are hopeful of a spot in the final eight.

New Zealand can all but clinch first place in Pool A with a win Sunday over Afghanistan at Napier, New Zealand. The New Zealanders, with four consecutive wins, can get some help from their co-hosts, Australia. If Australia beats second-place Sri Lanka in Sydney on Sunday, and the Kiwis beat Afghanistan, New Zealand will finish in first and receive a more favorable draw when the quarterfinal match-ups are determined.

Australia lost by one wicket to New Zealand and didn’t get any favors from the weather when it received only one point from a washed-out match against Bangladesh in Brisbane two weeks ago. The four-time champions can go a long way to ensure they finish in second place in Pool A with a win over 1996 champions Sri Lanka, which has also finished runners-up in the past two tournaments.

Pakistan may be hoping that the forecast rain for Auckland comes through Saturday and its match with the powerful South Africans get rained out, ensuring the Pakistan side a point as it fights for a quarterfinal place. In each of its last two games, against the West Indies and Ireland, South Africa has posted 400-plus totals and won by more than 200.

After losing its first two games against India and the West Indies, 1992 champion Pakistan has beaten Zimbabwe and the United Arab Emirates.

At Hobart, Zimbabwe will be playing without injured captain Elton Chigumbura , out with a left leg muscle tear, when it takes on Ireland in Pool B at Bellerive Oval.

Zimbabwe won’t be taking anything for granted based on what happened in 2007 at Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica. After Ireland scored 221 runs, Zimbabwe seemed on track for an easy win, needing 19 runs from 39 balls with five wickets in hand. But three run-outs in the final two overs by a panicking Zimbabwe batting lineup resulted in the teams finish level.

Ireland, which has won two of its three matches but has tougher clashes remaining against subcontinental rivals India and Pakistan after Saturday’s game, was beaten badly — by 201 runs — by South Africa in its last match.

“You’ve got to put it behind you pretty quickly,” Ireland captain William Porterfield said.

In other news Friday, Bangladesh batsman Anamul Haque was ruled out of the remainder of the tournament after injuring his right shoulder in Thursday’s game against Scotland and will be replaced by Imrul Kayes.

The International Cricket Council said it had also approved Seekuge Prasanna as a replacement player for Dimuth Karunaratne in Sri Lanka’s squad. Karunaratne fractured his little finger during a training session in Sydney.

This article was written by Dennis Passa from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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