Can South Africa stir the World Cup pot?

We're just past the halfway point in the 45-match league phase. The top four had just about threatened to pull away from the chasing pack when Bangladesh threw open the table by sealing two crucial points against the West Indies in what was a 'four-pointer'. Here's what's left of the league phase, and some big games that could shape the semi-final spots (and their order).

Match 25, New Zealand v South Africa, Edgbaston, June 19

The start of a late South African surge?

New Zealand are one of the two unbeaten sides so far along with India, and are coming off a rain abandonment. They have the best net run rate among the current top four (Australia, New Zealand, India and England), and with their last two league games against Australia and England, they wouldn't want to leave it too late. For South Africa, who are nearing do-or-die territory, a win is a must to revive a flagging campaign. A loss wouldn't yet mean certain exit, but would put them perilously close to the edge.

Match 30, Pakistan v South Africa, Lord's, June 23

The first potential knockout match

This could be the tournament's first knockout clash for practical purposes, with the loser all but certain to head home, barring a miraculous series of results elsewhere. Pakistan's 1992 parallels have been a big hit across social media, but if they are to show their 'cornered tigers' face, this might be the time to step up, even more so given their abysmal net run rate.

Match 37, Australia v New Zealand, Lord's, June 29

Trans-Tasman (third-place) dogfight?

By this time, Australia's hopes of defending their World Cup title could either have had a shot in the arm - they face England just before this - or be hanging in the balance. Either way, this is certain to be a match to decide a semi-final spot (or two), anywhere between positions one and four. They produced a thriller in the league phase last time around, and if it's anything like the Trans-Tasman encounters we've come to know, is all set to be a cracker.

Match 38, England v India, Edgbaston, June 30

Win and take top spot?

The pre-tournament favorites will meet deep into the league phase. England have a tough run-in to the knockout phase, with their last three league games lined up against Australia, India and New Zealand. It's a sequence that could see them anywhere between stamping their authority heading into the business end, to huffing and puffing their way into the final four, or even...well, let's just say weirder things have happened in cricket. If the first three weeks have been any indication, this is set to be the top of the table clash that could decide the winner of the group stage.

Match 43, Bangladesh v Pakistan, Lord's, July 5

Could it come down to this for the Tigers?

Among the chasing pack, Bangladesh currently seem most equipped to stir the pot and upset the established order. They have played and lost to New Zealand and England already, but have fixtures against Australia and India left. Assuming they pocket two points against Afghanistan, this seems to be the game that could make or break their shot at a semi-final spot. It comes quite late in the day, but given the top four are certain to drop points while facing each other, it could yet come down to this for Bangladesh. And if the aforementioned '92 parallels continue for Pakistan, this could be a four-pointer too.

And if South Africa go on a hot streak...

Match 45, Australia v South Africa, Old Trafford, July 7

Could there really be a sequel to Edgbaston '99, 20 years later? South Africa need to dominate every opponent in their way from now till here, for this game to truly matter. There does exist a world where Australia come into the tournament's final league game needing at least one point to seal a semi-final berth, and South Africa needing two, making it a straight shootout of a virtual quarterfinal. We (and Faf's men) are allowed to dream, aren't we?