Ok here is the equation. Before the last group E game between India and South Africa, New Zealand are at a net run rate of +0.05. And having played all their matches, that is going to be their final NRR. South Africa are at 0.77 and India are at 0.2. Remember that the last two numbers are going to change after today’s game.
For India, it is plain and simple. They have to just go out there and win the game. Even a win with a net run rate of 0 (say by 1 run or last ball finish) will ensure their net run rate ends up higher than New Zealand’s.
It’s a little more complicated for South Africa. If they win the game, or if the game is abandoned, they are thru, along with New Zealand. If they lose by a margin of less than 28 runs, once again they are through. However, if they lose to India by a margin of >= 28 runs, they are out of the tournament. India and New Zealand go through.
So here we have the situation where both teams potentially have something to win in this game, both teams have something to lose, and most importantly, it is NOT a zero sum game. There is a situation (where India beats SA by less than 28 runs) which will benefit both teams. And by choosing the margin of victory, they can even determine who is E1 and who is E2, and considering that group F would have resolved itself by then, they have a chance of choosing their semifinal opponents. If the margin is 11 runs or less, South Africa top the group. Else, India will top the group.
One’s mind goes back to 1982. Back to a time when one wasn’t even born. FIFA World Cup 1982. To quote the Wikipedia
West Germany and Austria knew that a West German win by 1 or 2 goals would qualify them both, while a larger German victory would qualify Algeria over Austria, and a draw or an Austrian win would eliminate the Germans ? the fourth team in the group, Chile, was eliminated regardless of the outcome. After 10 minutes of furious attack, Germany succeeded in scoring through a goal by Horst Hrubesch. After the goal was scored, the two German-speaking teams went into an unspoken agreement and just kicked the ball around aimlessly for the rest of the match.
It’s going to be tougher this time. It’s tougher to fix the outcome of a cricket match than it is to fix a football match. And unlike Austria and Germany, which were neighbors and spoke the same language, nothing (apart from Gandhi maybe) binds India with South Africa. And unlike Algeria, which was a Muslim Arab African state, India and South Africa have nothing special against New Zealand.
Still it’s worth a try. Situations like this don’t come along every day. Everything is in these guys’ hands now. Not only will they both qualify, both can choose their semifinal opponents. If only they collaborate. If only they collaborate and fix the match.
The analysis has been done assuming that India bat first. Replace margin of victory in runs by overs and you’ll get the picture if SA bat first. However, to keep things simple, if they decide to fix, India should bat.