Editor’s note: The article has been updated with minor modifications throughout after New Zealand vs Pakistan on Saturday.

India started Thursday on third place in the points table at the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup. South Africa and West Indies in Wellington, England and Pakistan in Christchurch... those were the matches scheduled for the day.

And after a little more than 10 overs in Wellington and 60 overs in Christchurch, India finished the day fifth on the table, first pushed down by West Indies gaining a point from the abandoned match against South Africa. England then came along and produced a win just clinical enough to pip India on Net Run Rate.

It turned out to be an interesting, perhaps even significant, day for Mithali Raj and Co without even taking the field.

After NZvPAK

 Australia (Q) 7 7 0 +1.283 14
 South Africa (Q) 6 4 1 (1) +0.092 9
 West Indies 7 3 3 (1) -0.885 7
 England 6 3 3 +0.778 6
 India 6 3 3 +0.768 6
 New Zealand 7 3 4 +0.027 6
 Bangladesh 6 1 5 -0.809 2
 Pakistan 7 1 6 -1.313 2

There are obviously more pressing concerns for India at the moment but the huge win for England (who have to play Bangladesh in their final match) made them firm favourites for the third spot and thereby avoiding Australia in the semifinal.

So once again, like in World Cup 2017, India will enter their last group stage match with their semifinals hope riding on a win. But unlike last time, vs New Zealand, this is not a virtual quarterfinal. India’s next opponents, South Africa, are through to the semifinal and are guaranteed to finish second as well (meaning they will avoid Australia).

It has all set up a huge game on Sunday (was always likely to be) for India against Proteas in Christchurch.

For starters, Australia and South Africa are guaranteed to finish No 1 and 2 on table and will avoid each other in the semi-finals.

Remaining fixtures:

  • England vs Bangladesh, Sun 27 March 03:30 IST, Basin Reserve, Wellington
  • India vs South Africa, Sun 27 March 06:30 IST, Hagley Oval, Christchurch

For India to qualify

  • India just need to win right? Yes, plain and simple. Defeat South Africa on Sunday. To reach the semifinals, that’s all there is to the equation for Mithali and Co. Of course, it is easier said than done as South Africa are one of the strongest teams in the tournament and India’s recent history against them is poor (a 1-4 series defeat at home).
  • As a sub-clause to above, India’s NRR is still important if they are able to defeat South Africa and things go their way on Sunday. England’s match against Bangladesh is likely to be over before theirs, so India will know how much of a margin they need to win (or lose) by to overtake Heather Knight’s team on table and finish third to avoid Australia. Of course, that is secondary, the more pressing concern is to just get the W.
  • What happens if IND-SA is a washout? India will be through to semifinals. That is (kinda) good news for India as their NRR is better than West Indies and they will finish fourth. But the chance of winning and possibly moving to 8 points to pip England, will be gone.
  • What if India lose against South Africa? Their tournament is all but over... but if and only if Bangladesh had managed to defeat England earlier in the day on Sunday, there will be a scenario where India will know how much their margin of defeat needs to be to finish with a better NRR than England (and New Zealand, if they win against Pakistan on Saturday).

Other teams in fray

  • Bangladesh kept themselves in mathematical contention to reach six points with a superb defence against Australia, but they are now officially out of semifinal reckoning. But having played in Wellington now, where they will take on England on Sunday, they could yet have a say on things.
  • England are well on track to finish on 8 points and with their NRR already better than India’s with a match against Bangladesh to come, look favourites to finish third now and face South Africa. In case their final match is washed out, India can pip them to the post with a win against South Africa.
  • West Indies will be hoping for a Bangladesh win against England and/or South Africa win against India on Sunday. Either result will see them qualify on seven points. Should both happen, they will finish third and one of England/India (and the slimmest of chances, New Zealand) will progress on six points in fourth place.
  • New Zealand are only mathematically alive, they defeated Pakistan by a decent margin to get into positive NRR but it still leaves them needing a miracle.

Update: Semifinals, when and where

The semi-finals will be played at the Basin Reserve in Wellington on 30 March and the Hagley Oval in Christchurch on 31 March. But, worth noting, if India qualify, they will play in semi-final 2 in Christchurch regardless of their finishing position in the round-robin stage. The final will be played in Christchurch on 3 April. So, Australia and South Africa (guaranteed 1 & 2 on the table) still don’t know when and where their semifinals will be as it depends on whether India qualify or not, and if they do, where they finish. Because India will play SF in Christchurch irrespective.

  • If India finish 3rd, it will be AUS vs 4th in Wellington and SA vs IND in Christchurch.
  • If India finish 4th, SA vs 3rd in Wellington and AUS vs IND in Christchurch.
  • If India don’t qualify, AUS vs 4th in Wellington and SA vs 3rd in Christchurch.