One toss of a coin could deal a fatal blow to Pakistan's erratic Cricket World Cup campaign.
Pakistan goes into its match against Bangladesh at Lord's on Friday knowing already that it is effectively out of contention for a semifinal spot.
New Zealand is fourth with 11 points at the end of its nine group games. Fifth-place Pakistan can draw level with the Black Caps on points if it beats Bangladesh — which can't qualify — but needs to win by 300-plus runs to advance. That's never been achieved before in ODI history.
Pakistan could see even those remote hopes end without a ball being bowled if it loses the toss and Bangladesh chooses to bat, eliminating any chance for Pakistan to radically improve its net run-rate.
This is used after number of wins to decide which team goes through to the last four if they share the same points. If Pakistan wins Friday, it will have five victories like New Zealand, which has a far superior net run-rate.
Former Pakistan test cricketers Ramiz Raja and Shoaib Akhtar were vocal in criticising the team's performance in the World Cup and held out little hope for Friday's game.
“It's like telling an individual that you have to climb Mount Everest without an oxygen mask. It's that much of a Herculean task,” former captain and TV commentator Raja said on his YouTube channel, adding “whether they (Pakistan) win or lose it doesn't matter.”
He called for changes after the tournament, saying: “We have to find batsmen, we have to find allrounders. That's the way you can make your future team.”
Akhtar was disappointed with the quality of cricket displayed by Pakistan.
“The mess was created by Pakistan themselves,” he said, “the way we lost heavily to West Indies in the first match, then rain washed out the game against Sri Lanka which was unfortunate.”