For the first time in history, the West Indies are on the brink of not qualifying for the World Cup. However, all is not lost yet after their gut-wrenching defeat against the Netherlands in one of the best ODI games ever played yesterday (June 26).

West Indies had come into their game against the Netherlands on the back of a loss against hosts Zimbabwe. That had already dented their World Cup hopes. Another misstep could have been fatal.

When they batted first and scored 374 against the Netherlands, it looked like half the job was done and they could breathe easy. The Dutch, however, didn’t let them. They have something about them. Something that makes them unleash the beast within when pushed into highly improbable situations.

The Netherlands chased 190 in 13.5 overs to beat Ireland in the 2014 T20 World Cup – a game still remembered as one of the best T20Is ever – to qualify for the Super 10s.

Yesterday (June 26), they played what will be remembered as one of the best ODIs ever played. Chasing 375, they first tied the match, then annihilated the West Indies in the Super Over to win by 22 runs.

As a result, the West Indies will now take zero points into the Super Six stage, for they have lost to Zimbabwe and the Netherlands, the two other teams that have qualified from their group. They will start the Super Six at a significant disadvantage.

Zimbabwe will start at four points, courtesy of their victories over both the Netherlands and the West Indies, while the Netherlands will start at two, thanks to their victory over the West Indies.

[breakout id=”0″][/breakout]

From the other group, one of Sri Lanka and Scotland will qualify with four points and the other with two, depending on the result of their game, while Oman will qualify with zero, having lost to both Sri Lanka and Scotland.

This whole scenario leaves the West Indies with a very slim chance of finishing in the top two in the Super Six stage. They will need to win all three games, against Sri Lanka, Scotland, and Oman. That will take them to six points. They will then have to hope that not more than one other team crosses six.

There are multiple scenarios of how that can happen, but most of them are either convoluted or improbable.

Let us assume that Sri Lanka beats Scotland to enter with four points and Scotland with two. If Sri Lanka wins all their Super Six games except against the West Indies, then West Indies will have to back Scotland to beat Zimbabwe. That will leave Zimbabwe (if they beat Oman) and Scotland (if they beat the Netherlands) on six each. The West Indies will then have to finish above Zimbabwe and Scotland on net run rate.

if Scotland beat Sri Lanka today, one can switch Scotland and Sri Lanka in the paragraph above.

Similarly, if Zimbabwe win all their Super Six games, the West Indies will have to hope that the the Netherlands lose at least once. That will lead to a two-way or a three-way tie between West Indies, Netherlands, and Sri Lanka on six, and it will again come down to net run rate.

In short, things look ominous for the Men in Maroon, and fans might have to start preparing themselves for the first ever World Cup without the West Indies.

However, as complicated and improbable as their road to the World Cup might seem, it will not be unprecedented. In 2019, Afghanistan had entered the Super Six with zero points, but they still managed to finish second and qualify for the 2019 ODI World Cup in England.

West Indies might be down, but they are not technically out yet.