Pakistan nearly through, India nearly out
With Sri Lanka having qualified for the Asia Cup finals with their win against Afghanistan, there is only one place left for the other teams to vie for. Pakistan, with two wins under their belt and a game left, are the most likely team to face Sri Lanka in the finals on Saturday. A win for Pakistan against Bangladesh will put all doubts to rest. Pakistan will go through and the others will be out of the Asia Cup. But should they lose to Bangladesh in their next match, all the other teams will also be in with a chance - however remote - for a place in the finals. The following is what the teams need to do, and also what they need others to do for them, to find a place in the final.
PakistanFor them the equation is simple yet: beat Bangladesh and get to the finals with three wins.
Pakistan can only be eliminated under the following scenarios, which on Bangladesh's current form look highly unlikely - (i) Bangladesh win both their remaining matches with bonus points and with ten points they go through to the final. (ii) Bangladesh win both their matches and get one bonus point against either of the teams. Then it will be a two-way tie on points with Pakistan, in which case Pakistan will be relegated.
The rules of the tournament stipulate that a tie on points between two or more teams will be decided, first on the head-to-head record in the tournament, and then, if required, on the bonus points earned and then, if required, on NRR. So Pakistan will not make it to the final if it is a two-way tie between them and Bangladesh, irrespective of their NRRs.
However, if India or Afghanistan also get a bonus point, then there will be a three-way tie between Pakistan, Bangladesh and India/Afghanistan, necessitating a qualification based on the highest NRR.
BangladeshThey still have two matches left and like Pakistan, they can also qualify for the finals without depending on other results. For that though, they will have to win both their remaining games - against Pakistan and Sri Lanka - with bonus points.
In the event that they win both their games but manage only one bonus point, they will go to the finals directly if no team gets a bonus point in the India-Afghanistan game. But in case one of the two does manage a bonus point, there will be a three-way tie, which then will be decided on NRRs. In a three-way tie situation though, it will help both Bangladesh and India if Bangladesh earn their bonus point against Pakistan.
It will be an outright elimination for Bangladesh if they don't win against Pakistan or if they don't manage at least two wins and one bonus point.
IndiaThe only chance of India qualifying is when there's a three-way tie with Pakistan and Bangladesh on points, head-to-head and bonus point. Bangladesh winning against Pakistan and losing against Sri Lanka will also not help them since it will be a two-way tie between India and Pakistan. India, having lost to Pakistan in the league match, will be relegated.
AfghanistanTheir qualifications scenarios mirror India's. They will have to beat India with a bonus point and hope for a three-way tie with Bangladesh and Pakistan. Their qualification is very unlikely though, given their NRR has taken a beating after heavy losses to Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Finally, here's a rough idea of how the margins of these results will affect the net run rates of the teams, for scores around 250. If Pakistan lose to Bangladesh by no more than a margin of 18 balls to spare or 16 runs, then their NRR will be higher than India's even if India were to beat Afghanistan by the minimum margin required to earn a bonus point. However, If India manage a bigger win, this will not be enough. If Bangladesh manage to beat Pakistan with a bonus point, Pakistan's NRR would be low enough to give Bangladesh and India a realistic chance of qualifying in case of a three-way tie.
Shiva Jayaraman is a sub-editor (stats) at ESPNcricinfo.com