On Monday, South Africa beat Bangladesh to record a third win in as many matches at the 2024 T20 World Cup. But despite their one hundred percent record with just one group game to go, the Proteas have not yet secured a spot in the Super Eight stage of the tournament. Here's why.

In a tournament format which sees each team play four matches in the preliminary phase, winning all of the first three gives a side an excellent chance of going through as one of the top two-ranked teams in their group. However, due to the arrangement of fixtures and results of matches so far in Group D, South Africa have still not ensured mathematical qualification to the Super Eight stage yet.

How could South Africa still fail to qualify for the Super Eights?

South Africa defeated Sri Lanka in their first match, Netherlands in their second and Bangladesh in the third game. The latter two have one win (two points) each, thanks to wins over Sri Lanka and Nepal respectively. Sri Lanka have zero points after two games, and Nepal zero after one.

South Africa have six points already, and would remain on that total if they lost their final group stage match to Nepal. Further, Nepal could also get to six points by defeating Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. If these were the only two teams capable of reaching six points, the Proteas would be through already, but there is a catch.

Netherlands' two remaining fixtures are against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. If they win both games, the Dutch will also reach six points. Therefore, there is a possibility that Group D has three teams tied on six points. In that case, net run rate would come into play which will be determined by the results that follow, meaning it is not a mathematical certainty that South Africa have already qualified as both Netherlands and Nepal could potentially overhaul their net run rate.

How likely is it that South Africa do not qualify for the Super Eights?

For South Africa to finish outside the top two in this group, it would require results from five matches to go a certain way. Even assuming a 50-50 probability in each of these games, there is only a one in 32 chance that the chips fall that way. Factor in their net run rate needing to be overtaken by two different sides, and it becomes even less probable that they miss out on qualification. Factor in the likelihood of rain washing out Nepal-Sri Lanka in Lauderhill, and it dips sharply once again.  

As spirited and talented as both Netherlands and Nepal are, and as high a tendency Sri Lanka and Bangladesh sometimes have to be the masters of their own downfall, it is hard to see all five results going the right way to knock South Africa out. But mathematically speaking, the chances are not zero.

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