Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Permutations of Cricketing Masochism

I had vowed at some point in Pakistan's dismal recent cricketing history not to write on cricket again. Actually I had probably vowed not to watch cricket again as well. But of course I knew even then that I was lying to myself. There is something inherently masochistic in a Pakistan cricket fan that keeps her/him coming back, even at the almost certain risk of heart-break, social ostracization from polite company and medical complications such as untenably high blood pressure. And then along comes the World Cup and Pakistan, despite all their quirks and Kamran Akmal, do scrape through to the quarter-finals.

So there you have it. What can you do?

Of course, getting through to the knock-out stage is only the first part of the battle and, as every cricket-mad enthusiast in Pakistan will affirm, the bigger question on everyone's mind is who we will end up playing in the quarterfinals. The consensus seems to be that we would not like to meet India in the quarters. Some claim this is because they would not like to see the Mother Of All cricket battles take place so early in the competition. Pakistan's skipper Shahid Afridi claims this is because he would rather NOT play the quarters in India with its fiercely partisan crowd, which would be the case if Pakistan meet India at that stage. But of course, mostly it's because Pakistan has never won against India in previous World Cups and the memory of the Bangalore quarterfinals against India in 1996 still haunts us.

Well, the simple (by which I mean complicated) fact of the matter is that, as the points table is placed at the moment, an India-Pakistan can only be definitely avoided if a certain combination of results happen. Like all fellow masochists and failed mathematicians, I have wasted quite a bit of time on working out the probable permutations. And so I thought I might as well share them with everyone.

Here is the points table as it stands tonight (March 14):
(NRR = Net Run Rate)

Group A:

New Zealand is on top with 8 points, 4 wins, NRR of +1.957 with 1 match to play against Sri Lanka
Pakistan is second with 8 points, 4 wins, NRR of +0.729 with 1 match to play against Australia
Sri Lanka is third with 7 points, 3 wins, NRR of +2.705 with 1 match to play against New Zealand
Australia is fourth with 7 points, 3 wins, NRR of +1.645 with 2 matches to play against Canada and Pakistan
Zimbabwe, Canada and Kenya are out of the quarterfinals

Group B:

India is on top with 7 points, 3 wins, NRR of +0.768 with 1 match to play against West Indies
West Indies is second with 6 points, 3 wins, NRR of +2.206 with 2 matches to play against England and India
South Africa is third with 6 points, 3 wins, NRR of +1.352 with 2 matches to play against Ireland and Bangladesh
Bangladesh is fourth with 6 points, 3 wins, NRR of -0.765 with 1 match to play against South Africa
England is fifth with 5 points, 2 wins, NRR of +0.013 with 1 match to play against West Indies
Ireland is sixth with 2 points, 1 win, NRR of -0.444 with 2 matches to play against South Africa and Netherlands
Netherland is out of the quarterfinals

Now, as far as Group A is concerned, it is almost a certainty that Australia will beat Canada, so let's take that as a given. Further permutations are:

Scenario A1: 
New Zealand beats Sri Lanka and Australia beats Pakistan.
This would mean that New Zealand ends up on 10 points, Sri Lanka remains on 7 points and Pakistan on 8 points. Australia will end up on 11 points and top the group. In this case Pakistan will be placed third in the group.

Scenario A2:
New Zealand beats Sri Lanka and Pakistan beats Australia.
This will most probably result in Pakistan coming second in the group since it is unlikely to overhaul New Zealand's better NRR.

Scenario A3:
Sri Lanka beats New Zealand and Australia beats Pakistan.
Sri Lanka will move on to 9 points, Australia on 11, New Zealand and Pakistan remain on 8 points with NZ probably having a better NRR still. Pakistan ends up in fourth position.

Scenario A4:
Sri Lanka beats New Zealand and Pakistan beats Australia.
Pakistan tops table with 10 points, followed by Sri Lanka or Australia (both on 9) and New Zealand on 8.

As far as Group B is concerned there are even more permutations. But let's assume certain things, such as South Africa almost certainly beating Ireland and Bangladesh (I know this may be a bit unfair to the Pommie-killers but we have to retain some level of realistic probability as well or it all gets much too complicated):

Scenario B1:
India beats West Indies and England beats West Indies.
In this case, South Africa is on top with 10 points, India is second with 9, England is third with 7 and West Indies is fourth with 6 (edging out Bangladesh on better NRR).

Scenario B2:
India beats West Indies and West Indies beat England.
In this case, South Africa is first with 10 points, India second with 9, West Indies third with 8 and Bangladesh fourth with 6. England is out.

Scenario B3:
West Indies beat India and England beats West Indies.
South Africa top the table with 10 points, West Indies is second with 8, India or England is third and fourth depending on NRR.

Scenario B4:
West Indies beat India and England.
West Indies top the table with 10 points and better NRR than South Africa (in second position also with 10 points), India is third with 7, Bangladesh is fourth with 6. England is out.

Now, Pakistan will end up meeting India in the quarters if any of the following combinations take place:

A1 + B1
A1 + B2
A2 + B3
A2 + B4
A4 + B3 (if India comes fourth depending on NRR)

As you can see from the above, the only scenario in which a Pakistan - India quarterfinal can be avoided from Pakistan's end at all costs is A3, i.e. if Pakistan LOSES to Australia AND Sri Lanka beats New Zealand. Obviously, Pakistan can't do much about the Sri Lanka - New Zealand match but it could play its part by losing to Australia, couldn't it?
Now, those with a keen eye and a propensity to cut through mathematical bullcrap will surely point out that the following combinations will also ensure that India and Pakistan do not meet in the first stage of the knock-outs: A1 + B3, A1 + B4, A2 + B1, A2 + B2, A4 + B1, A4 + B2, A4 + B4. And that's not even counting possible rain washouts, ties and any upsets of the assumptions I have made regarding Canada, Bangladesh and Ireland.

I have done all this, of course, only to prove one thing: Pakistani cricket masochism leads to a loss of all sensible and rational thought.

So yeah, fuckit. Just play the game lads. And to my fellow masochists, does it really matter if Pakistan meets India rather than South Africa or West Indies or England or even Bangladesh in the knockout stages? There's no getting round the fact that we've got to beat them to move on.


Said said...

yeah, okay. BRING IT ON INDIA I SAY!

Gul Bukhari said...

Great post - written in a state of wild eyed distraction?

Junaid said...

I personally thinks that these matches (pre-quarter) final could have been more interesting if there were only 6 teams that needs to go to quarters, then every match would have been interesting. Then 4 teams in semis from quarter finals and then 2 teams for final.

Anonymous said...

Junaid, you don't make any sense. If three teams were to qualify from each group and play against each other, then there would be three matches and it would cease to be a quarter-final at all. Plus, how would that work our after all three teams have played each other?

TLW said...

♫Just Gonna Stand There and Watch Me Burn,♫
♫But That's Alright Because I Like The Way It Hurts.♫

♫Just Gonna Stand There And Hear Me Cry,♫
♫But That's Alright Because I Love The Way You Lie♫

Junaid said...

Six teams, not three matches. Each team will play against other groups teams and final 4 will go to semis based on points/RR . Call it quater finals or whatever.

scare said...

C'on Rumi such a useless post after so many days.I think cafepyala is not on your priority these days.

Anonymous said...

lol diff of language but i don't know who copied who?


I. said...

Wow, great post. XYZ has emerged as the most tragic of cricket tragics. The Hamlet of cricket tragics. Now let's stop wavering and kill Uncle India.

noiln said...

Permutations definition
What is a permutation? , define Permutation, why we use permutation?