Sri Lanka's hopes of reaching the Cricket World Cup semi-finals were severely dented on Friday as they lost heavily to South Africa, one of three teams already eliminated.

A nine-wicket defeat at The Riverside leaves Dimuth Karunaratne's side facing an uphill battle to make the last four, with 10 fixtures remaining in the group stage.

We take a look at how the qualification picture is shaping up ahead of a massive weekend.

 

ALREADY THROUGH - Australia

The defending champions have improved as the tournament has gone on and look capable of claiming a sixth World Cup title. Mitchell Starc - the leading wicket-taker when they triumphed in 2015 - is again the most prolific bowler in the competition, while David Warner leads the run-scoring charts after returning from his year-long suspension.

 

ALMOST THERE - India, New Zealand

India could yet be denied a place in the semi-finals if they fail to pick up a point in their remaining fixtures, but that seems highly unlikely. Virat Kohli's men are the only unbeaten side in the competition and need only a solitary point from games against England, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to guarantee their progression.

Like India, New Zealand also have 11 points. The fact they finish the group stage with games against Australia and England may mean a few Black Caps fans are a little nervous, but it would be a huge surprise if Kane Williamson's side do not reach the last four. They may well already have enough points.

BATTLING TO STAY ALIVE - England, Pakistan, Bangladesh

Hosts England started the tournament as favourites, yet they are now in serious danger of an early exit, having lost successive matches against Sri Lanka and Australia. If England win their last two games they will definitely qualify, but India and New Zealand represent challenging opposition.

Should England slip up, Pakistan are poised to pounce. Sarfraz Ahmed's side have astonishingly matched their streak of results at the 1992 event they ended up winning and will fancy their chances of taking maximum points from games against Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

Pakistan and Bangladesh both have seven points from as many games, one point fewer than England. The Tigers' task is made tougher by the fact they face India on Tuesday, but they cannot be counted out with Shakib Al Hasan enjoying a wonderful tournament.

 

RANK OUTSIDERS - Sri Lanka

The 1996 champions look to have blown their chance by losing to South Africa. They must now beat West Indies and India, and hope a series of other results go their way. An abysmal net run rate does them no favours.

 

OUT - South Africa, West Indies, Afghanistan

Few would have anticipated the Proteas being eliminated prior to the final week of the group phase, but their performances prior to Friday had been miserable, while West Indies peaked in their opening game against Pakistan and have since fallen away badly. Afghanistan face Pakistan and the Windies at Headingley looking to avoid the indignity of finishing the World Cup without a point.

Kemar Roach says West Indies must take a long, hard look at themselves after their Cricket World Cup failure but feels the future is still bright for Jason Holder's side.

The Windies' hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals were dashed when India consigned them to a chastening 125-run defeat at Old Trafford on Thursday.

India posted 268-7 after Virat Kohli won the toss on a glorious day in Manchester, the captain making 72 and MS Dhoni 56 not out.

The hostile Roach (3-36) was the pick of the Windies bowlers, with excellent support from Sheldon Cottrell (2-50) and captain Jason Holder (2-33).

Holder's men collapsed from 71-2 to 143 all out in reply, paying the price for a lack of application - Mohammed Shami doing much of the damage with outstanding figures of 4-16.

Paceman Roach says the Windies must learn their lessons after falling short in the tournament.

"All the bowlers bowled well. To restrict India for 260 is always going to be good," he told the media.

"They're a quality batting line-up, some world-class players on their team. And I think 260 on that pitch was, for me, [was] below par. But it was just not our day for the batsmen. So we go look at ourselves deeply and obviously move forward."

He added: "I think we have a bright future. We have some quality players around. [Shimron] Hetmyer and Oshane [Thomas], the younger guys, once they get some good guidance, they'll do well for West Indies.

"And I'm confident in the guys. I'll always be a fan of West Indies cricket for sure. And there's no doubt about it.

"It's all a good future for us. There's a couple of guys back home doing well as well. So hopefully we'll see these guys filter into the West Indies team in the probably near future."

Shimron Hetmyer strode to the wicket wearing a beaming smile in a Richie Richardson-style floppy sun hat, but trudged off disconsolately with West Indies heading out of the Cricket World Cup.

It was the India players and their magnificent, passionate fans who were grinning from ear to ear as they eased to a crushing 125-run win on a glorious Thursday at Old Trafford.

The Windies needed a win to have any hope of qualifying for the semi-finals, but bowed out with a whimper after collapsing to 143 all out having been set a target of 269 in Manchester.

While unbeaten India are almost certainly bound for the last four and will take some beating, the Windies selectors have some big decisions to make.

Hetmyer's approach to the middle and his time at the crease just about summed things up for Jason Holder's men.

Great entertainers when at their best, blessed with natural talent in abundance but lacking the application to give themselves a chance of making a serious impact in the tournament.

Hetmyer certainly looked the part in a wide-brimmed maroon hat, donned by the likes of the classy Richardson and Carl Hooper back in the day.

The gifted left-handed batsman was clearly trying to make a statement, but soon called for the helmet as brilliant India turned up the heat on the Windies with the sun beating down.

There was uncertainty throughout a poor run chase, which saw the men from the Caribbean crumble from 71-2, Sunil Ambris - playing his first match of the tournament - top scoring with only 31 as Mohammed Shami took 4-16 following his hat-trick heroics against Afghanistan.

While Hetmyer and Nicholas Pooran are the future for West Indies, Chris Gayle looked like a man coming to the end of his international career.

Gayle stated on the eve of the match that he had backtracked on his intention to retire from ODIs after the World Cup and plans to resume his Test career against India next month, but the selectors must look at the bigger picture. 

They must also ask themselves why Kemar Roach has only played three World Cup matches after the quick was the pick of the bowlers with 3-36.

Prolific skipper Virat Kohli (72) and former captain MS Dhoni (56 not out) whipped an already raucous army of India fans into a frenzy and the Windies were unable to silence them.

Dhoni capitalised on a missed stumping and being dropped, conjuring up a late onslaught which thousands had turned up in the hope of witnessing.

Kohli sauntered casually over the outfield for the team bus very much heading in the right direction, while the wheels came off for West Indies and they are in need of some repair work.

Virat Kohli heaped praise on MS Dhoni after India inflicted a heavy defeat on West Indies at Old Trafford.

India's 125-run win all but confirmed a Cricket World Cup semi-final spot for Kohli's unbeaten side and ended West Indies' hopes of reaching the last four.

Captain Kohli was man of the match after a gritty 72 and Dhoni made useful runs. The wicketkeeper-batsman's unbeaten 56 contained two sixes in the final over of India's innings, while Hardik Pandya also scored 46.

The Caribbean side then folded with the bat, following India's 268-7 with a feeble 143 all out.

Kohli said: "We've just become number one as far as the rankings are concerned and, to be honest, we've been playing like that for a while now. I think the key is to continue the same way.

"Things haven't gone our way with the bat in the last two games but we've still found a way to win. That to me is a very pleasing thing and I'm happy I could contribute as well.

"Today, getting to 270 was crucial. I think Hardik played outstandingly well and MS finished very strongly.

"When those two play like that we always get to a winning total and on that kind of wicket 270 was always going to be a very, very difficult score to chase."

Speaking about Dhoni, Kohli said: "He knows what he wants to do out in the middle. He's won us so many games and the best thing about having someone like him is when you need that extra 15, 20 runs he knows exactly how to get them for the team.

"Keeping strike at the end and finishing off with two big sixes was something that gave us a lot of boosts as a team.

"His experience eight out of 10 times has come good for us. He's a legend of the game, we all know that, and he's doing a tremendous job for us and hopefully he can continue."

West Indies skipper Jason Holder said: "I thought the bowlers did a fantastic job and I couldn't really ask them for more, and the guys gave a really good effort in the field. I guess we just let ourselves down with the bat."

Holder believes that was a theme reflected throughout the World Cup, as he analysed where it went wrong for West Indies.

"We let ourselves down significantly," Holder said. "I don't think we seized the crucial moments in this tournament as well as we should have.

"I thought the bowlers had a reasonable campaign and everything we asked of them they came out and delivered.

"We didn't really support as well as we'd have liked in the field, in fact we let ourselves down tremendously in the field, and some of our batting was just too inconsistent."

India's bowlers ripped through West Indies to seal a 125-run win at Old Trafford that all but confirms a Cricket World Cup semi-final spot for Virat Kohli's unbeaten side.

Kohli (72) and MS Dhoni (56 not out) both hit half-centuries as India, who won the toss and elected to bat, made 268-7, with Jason Holder's 46 dot balls in his 10 overs helping to keep the total down.

West Indies lost Chris Gayle when they had just 10 on the board and wickets fell at regular intervals after Sunil Ambris, who top-scored with 31 having been drafted in for his first appearance of the tournament, was out to leave his team 71-3.

India took the final eight wickets for just 72 runs, Jasprit Bumrah (2-9) striking with back-to-back deliveries before missing the chance to replicate Mohammed Shami's brilliant final-over hat-trick against Afghanistan.

Shami (4-16) was the pick of the India attack once again as West Indies were dismissed for 143 to see their slim semi-final aspirations ended.

India next face England at Edgbaston on Sunday and one victory from their remaining three fixtures will ensure they make the last four.

ANOTHER KOHLI MILESTONE HIGHLIGHTS BATTING EFFORT

Another day, another landmark for Kohli.

Having beaten Sachin Tendulkar's record to become the quickest man to reach 11,000 ODI runs in the win over Pakistan at the same venue, Kohli made history again at Old Trafford, reaching 20,000 international runs in all formats quicker than anyone else.

Kohli did that with his 37th run in his 417th inning, going on to make his fourth successive half-century in this World Cup before pulling a half-tracker from Holder to Darren Bravo at midwicket.

That left India 180-5 in the 39th over and though Dhoni initially struggled and should have been stumped when on seven, he picked up the pace towards the end, reaching his 50 in the final over and then smashing the last ball for his second maximum to set West Indies 269 to win.

GAYLE SUMS UP WINDIES WOE

A day after he had hinted at shelving his retirement plans, Gayle produced an innings that suggested he should stick with his initial idea to hang up his batting gloves.

The self-proclaimed 'Universe Boss' had said he was "definitely up there with the greats, without a doubt" at his pre-match press conference, though he looked anything but when meekly pulling Shami to Kedar Jadhav at mid on to exit after 19 balls.

Four of Gayle's six runs came from an inside edge where he was fortunate not to play on and his struggles epitomised West Indies' woes, with only five batsmen reaching double figures, two of which were tailenders Kemar Roach (14 not out) and Sheldon Cottrell (10).

It was a disappointing end for a team that had promised so much when hammering Pakistan in their opening game.

JP Duminy has issued an apology to South Africa's fans as they prepare to face the consequences of a disappointing Cricket World Cup campaign.

A string of insipid performances in England mean South Africa head into their penultimate fixture against Sri Lanka, which takes place on Friday at The Riverside, having won just one of seven matches.

Duminy is retiring from ODIs after the tournament following a 15-year career, so has taken any decision about his future out of the hands of the national selectors.

But there could be repercussions for some of his team-mates, with the futures of captain Faf du Plessis and coach Ottis Gibson ripe for discussion.

Players who have underperformed in this tournament could find themselves discarded by the time South Africa begin a tour of India in September.

"We had one mission," Duminy told the media. "That was to play really good cricket in this World Cup and give ourselves a good chance to get into the play-offs and take it from there.

"Unfortunately, we have come up short and our skills haven't been good enough on this trip."

The 35-year-old all-rounder said the team's performance had been "pretty dismal", adding: "We obviously want to apologise to the public and the South African fans for letting them down.

"When you represent your country it is always a proud moment and you understand that you represent 50, 60 million people, that is a proud moment in itself.

"And when you put in performances like that, you in a way almost feel ashamed of that."

He predicted the Proteas would "come back stronger" after "some sort of introspection around where we have gone wrong".

But South Africa's squad are aware of the talk from back home. Asked what steps Cricket South Africa might take in the aftermath, Duminy said: "I wish I could give you an answer. I'm not sure. Obviously, we heard reports that heads will roll."

He mounted a defence of team management and expressed his regret that they were the first to be blamed.

"They have given us all the backing that we need to go out there and put in big performances, but we are the ones that have come up short," Duminy said.

"In terms of the decisions that Cricket South Africa make, that's out of my hands. But going on the back of previous World Cups, there will probably be some shifting and I think that's the reality that we all understand."

India captain Virat Kohli claimed another slice of cricket history when he became the fastest player to reach 20,000 international runs.

Kohli achieved the milestone with the 37th run of his innings against West Indies in Thursday’s Cricket World Cup fixture at Old Trafford.

The 30-year-old has taken 417 international matches to reach the 20,000 mark.

India legend Sachin Tendulkar and West Indies great Brian Lara previously topped the list, having both passed the mark in their 453rd international match.

Kohli is one of 12 players to achieve the feat, joining Tendulkar, Lara, Kumar Sangakkara, Ricky Ponting, Mahela Jayawardene, Jacques Kallis, Rahul Dravid, Sanath Jayasuriya, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Inzamam-ul-Haq and AB de Villiers.

The bulk of Kohli’s runs for India have come in ODI cricket, the skipper beginning his innings against West Indies with 11,087 runs at an outstanding average of 59.60.

Those runs include 41 centuries in the 50-over format, with only Tendulkar (49) ahead of him on that list.

Kohli has also scored 6,613 runs in Test cricket, at an average of 53.76, while he boasts a further 2,263 in Twenty20 internationals.

Windies batting star Chris Gayle has targeted maximum points against previously as the team teether closer to mathematical elimination from the ICC World Cup.

The regional team has had a poor showing at the tournament to date and currently sit in 8th position after losing four of six games.  With the team having the faint possibility of advancing to the next round, Gayle hopes for a good game from the Caribbean squad.

 "We need two points definitely. It's an important match for us, there's a slim chance for us to qualify but anything is possible. India have been playing good cricket in the tournament, I'm looking forward to the match and hopefully, we can have a good game," Gayle said.

 "The fans will be looking for some entertainment from our whole team. It should be an interesting game, I hope the match goes down to the wire and we come out triumphant," he added.

The West Indies were off to a strong start after a big win over Pakistan but saw their early momentum ground to a halt after losses to Australia, England, Bangladesh and New Zealand.

"We had a good start against Pakistan, fans said that West Indies are a real threat in the World Cup. In the middle period, the match against Australia cost us big time. But it's the World Cup, it's never over till it's over. It's a learning experience for our guys.”

 

West Indies are heading for the last chance saloon in their bid to qualify for the Cricket World Cup semi-finals but India can put one foot in the last four at Old Trafford on Thursday.

The Windies' bid to advance from the group stage is hanging by a thread following a heart-breaking five-run defeat to New Zealand at Edgbaston last weekend.

Carlos Brathwaite's magnificent century was in vain as the all-rounder was caught on the boundary by Trent Boult trying to complete what would have been an astonishing win with a six.

Jason Holder's men have no margin for error when they take on India in Manchester, where opening batsman Sunil Ambris will be hoping to get a chance after being called up to replace the injured Andre Russell.

India look destined to qualify after avoiding what would have been a stunning defeat to Afghanistan courtesy of a Mohammed Shami final-over hat-trick at the Rose Bowl last weekend.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar is set to miss out with a hamstring injury.

 

TOURNAMENT SO FAR

India have won four matches out of five, with the other against New Zealand washed out, to stand on the brink of the semi-finals.

The Windies' agonising loss to the Black Caps was their fourth of the tournament. The only win for Holder's men was their first match of the tournament, a seven-wicket drubbing of Pakistan.

 

WHAT THEY SAID

Windies captain Holder: "A match against India is always a big one. We are looking forward to it. We need to finish our campaign and our objective is to win all our remaining matches. It's a matter of displaying a perfect game, so it is another opportunity for us to showcase our skills."

India bowling coach Bharat Arun: "They're an outstanding side and they play real positive cricket. We are aware of the challenges that exist in this game. I think our plans are pretty much in place and we are up for the challenge."

 

OPTA FACTS

- India have won four of their last six ODIs against West Indies, including a crushing 224-run victory last October which is their third-largest in the 50-over format.

- The Windies have lost their last four completed World Cup matches, they have never endured a longer losing run in the history of the tournament.

- Chris Gayle has scored four centuries versus India in ODIs, his joint-most against any country in the format (level with England). Although the last of those came in 2006.

West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell successfully underwent knee surgery on Wednesday after being forced out of the ICC World Cup because of injury.

West Indies batsman Chris Gayle has backtracked on his decision to end his ODI career after the Cricket World Cup and stated that he plans to come out of Test retirement.

The opener is due to retire from the 50-over format following the tournament in England and Wales.

Yet the 39-year-old on Wednesday revealed that he plans to feature in the ODI series against India in the Caribbean in August and the Test series that will follow.

Gayle, who has not played in the longest format since 2014, said: "Maybe a Test match against India and then I'll play, definitely play the ODIs against India. I won't play the T20s. That's my plan for after World Cup."

Not for the first time, the charismatic showman stated that he will go down as a Windies batting great.

He said: "I'm definitely up there. I'm definitely up there with the greats without a doubt. Like I say, I enjoy each and every moment of West Indies, playing for West Indies.

"Like I said, it's still not the end. I still have a few games to go. Maybe another series to go - who knows, we'll see what happens.

"It's been a lot of ups and downs. I've got to say I really enjoy each and every moment. But we share some quality moments with some quality players as well. I started my career with the likes of Courtney Walsh, Curtly Ambrose, you watch them on TV and you realise they're in the dressing room, it's just a bunch of guys.

"And Brian Lara, the first captain as well, Carl Hooper. So it's some quality moments when you look back on it.

"I'll have to analyse it and give you full details, a better exclusive interview on that particular moment, and then you can take it further. But like I said I could not have had a better career as a player representing the West Indies."

Brian Lara said he is "fine" and expects to be discharged from a Mumbai hospital on Wednesday after the former West Indies captain was admitted due to chest pains.

West Indies had confirmed Lara, who is working in India as a television pundit for the Cricket World Cup, was taken to a hospital on Tuesday.

The Windies then tweeted an audio message from Lara in which he explained doctors had been encouraged by the results on some of the tests they had done, with the 50-year-old hoping to be allowed to leave soon. 

"I know everyone is very concerned about what's happening," Lara said in the audio message.

"I think I just maybe extended myself a bit too much in the gym this morning.

"I was feeling a bit of pain in my chest so I just felt it was best to see a doctor and was taken to the hospital. The pain continued so obviously a lot of tests have been done.

"I'm just chilling in my hospital bed watching England versus Australia. Hopefully Australia could restrict England and beat them.

"I'm going to be alright, just ease off the messages, my phone is going non-stop. I'm going to switch it off. I wouldn't like to switch off really because I'd like to speak to my family but just letting everyone know that I'm fine, I'm recovering and I'll be back in my hotel room tomorrow.

"Couple of the tests that came back already, the doctors were quite happy that there's nothing major. Thanks again for your concern.

"I'll be back in Trinidad and I'll be back in full health very soon."

Lara is West Indies' record run scorer in Tests having amassed 11,912 in 230 innings between 1990 and 2006.

He still holds the record for most runs in a single Test innings, having accumulated 400 not out against England in 2004, and the highest first-class score following his unbeaten 501 for Warwickshire against Durham 25 years ago.

Sunil Ambris has been cleared to replace the injured Andre Russell in West Indies' Cricket World Cup squad.

All-rounder Russell was ruled out of the rest of the tournament due to a knee injury.

Opening batsman Ambris was selected as the man to take Russell's place and the ICC on Monday sanctioned the replacement.

Ambris has played only six ODIs but scored 148 against Ireland last month and also made an unbeaten half-century against Bangladesh. 

The 26-year-old right-hander will be hoping to get the nod to partner Chris Gayle at the top of the order when the Windies face India in a must-win contest at Old Trafford on Thursday. 

Windies all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite admitted he was grateful for a maiden One Day International (ODI) century, despite a gut-wrenching loss against New Zealand on Saturday.

A controversial selection ahead of the ICC World Cup, Brathwaite had struggled to make any real impression at the tournament.  In three prior matches, his best scores were 16 against Australia and 14 against England.  He was dropped for Bangladesh and possibly only selected for New Zealand because of the injury to Andre Russell.

His sensational knock against New Zealand, however, resembled the player who promised so much after taking the West Indies over the line against England at the 2016 T20 World Cup.  With the Windies on the ropes, Brathwaite finally showed up and earned plenty of plaudits despite his efforts falling just short.

"It is a cliché to say that it doesn't matter if you don't win, but for me personally, for my confidence, it is a result of all the hard work that I put in," Brathwaite told Espncricinfo.

"It is finally good that it has come to fruition. I continue to work hard. Obviously heartbreaking to not get over the line but I give thanks for the performance and being able to get the team in the position that I was able to,” he added.

In the 2016 World Twenty20 final, Carlos Brathwaite faced the first ball of the last over. His side needed 19 runs to win and Brathwaite hammered four sixes in successive balls, steering West Indies to the most unlikely of victories.

Three years on, Brathwaite was again trying to do the near-impossible for his country on the big stage.

He walked into a baptism of fire at Old Trafford, facing a Lockie Ferguson hat-trick ball, but defended it before finding the boundary from the very next delivery. But the wickets kept on tumbling, part of a collapse that saw West Indies go from 142-2 to 164-7 in pursuit of a victory target of 292 against a New Zealand side who had started the Cricket World Cup in excellent form.

Those five wickets fell in as many overs and the only way of keeping the smallest chance of victory alive was to consolidate, so Brathwaite got to work. He took only three singles in a 17-ball spell and it took a Mitchell Santner delivery that was just asking to be hit for six to snap Brathwaite out of his funk. He duly obliged, sending it 96 metres, but showed the restraint and temperament so many of his team-mates lacked, by putting the cue back in the rack, at least momentarily.

Brathwaite batted for more than 11 overs with Kemar Roach, the latter departing with the score on 211. Another handy partnership followed with Sheldon Cottrell, the left-armer adding 15 runs to a terrific performance that included four wickets, two catches and a run-out. Cottrell even hit two fours in successive deliveries in the 43rd over, but when Ferguson claimed his 14th scalp of the World Cup, bowling Cottrell, West Indies were 245-9 with just five overs left.

Needing 47 more runs for victory, out strode Oshane Thomas, a number 11 batsman in every sense of the word, a man with just 14 runs to his name in 22 international appearances. West Indies were gone. Surely.

Not for the first time, Brathwaite had other ideas. He hit the next delivery for four, smashing Trent Boult – who snagged four wickets for New Zealand – over mid off, and showed faith in Thomas, taking a single from the third ball of the over. The next over followed a similar tune, Brathwaite hitting one boundary, this time a six, and leaving Thomas to see out the over.

The equation was getting tougher and tougher, 33 runs still required from the last three overs, with just one wicket in hand, but Brathwaite has previously showed he does not mind when the odds are stacked against him.

An over reminiscent of that 2016 decider was to follow, too, with Brathwaite taking a two off Matt Henry before clobbering three sixes in a row, over long on, backward point and long off respectively. Then he top-edged Henry for four and finished with a single, keeping the strike in a 25-run over that got fans across the world out of their seats. The impossible was now possible. 

As is so often the case in these types of run chases, the last few runs always seem the hardest, and so it proved.

Jimmy Neesham beat Brathwaite not once, but twice, before the latter pulled out to deep mid-wicket for two runs that took him past a century, his first at one-day international level. It is possible, but difficult, to imagine Brathwaite scoring a better ton in the remainder of his career, but the job was not done.

Another dot ball from Neesham saw the task become six runs required from seven balls. 

Would Brathwaite take the single to keep the strike, or would he go for glory? Unsurprisingly, he chose the second option. And as he swung hard and hit Neesham over mid-on, it looked like it was the right option. He did not middle it but a man that powerful can easily clear the boundary without doing so.

The Old Trafford crowd roared, expecting the ball to sail for six, while television viewers waited as the ball hung in the air and Boult, stationed on the deep mid-wicket boundary, came into view. And Boult did brilliantly, not only taking a fantastic overhead catch, but stopping himself from going over the boundary to give New Zealand a dramatic, thrilling five-run victory. Big celebrations in the outfield followed as a shattered Brathwaite slumped to his knees. 

If his shot had travelled an extra two metres, West Indies were victors, but Brathwaite and his men quite literally, just fell short. It is, after all, a fine line between pleasure and pain.

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