The Black Caps' hold on a Cricket World Cup semifinal spot remains secure despite their six-wicket defeat to Pakistan this morning.

A win would have locked New Zealand into a top three spot, but the nature of the defeat – forcing Pakistan to take 49.1 overs to chase down 238 – has left the Black Caps in an extremely advantageous position.

Sitting in second on the ladder on 11 points, there are three teams outside the top four who can theoretically surpass New Zealand.

Sri Lanka (six points) hold the simplest path – needing to win all three remaining games, and hoping the Black Caps lose their last two, against Australia and England.

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However, those three games are against South Africa, the West Indies and India, with the odds firmly against Sri Lanka managing to go three-from-three.

Bangladesh and Pakistan (seven points) are the other sides who can catch New Zealand, but with the two teams playing each other in their final match, only one could match them on 11. It's most likely to be Pakistan – who play Afghanistan in their other remaining game, while Bangladesh have to play India.

Pakistan's victory over New Zealand has made the scramble for semifinal spots much more interesting. Photo / Photosport
Pakistan's victory over New Zealand has made the scramble for semifinal spots much more interesting. Photo / Photosport

But, even if Pakistan win both their clashes, and even if the Black Caps lose both their games, it would still take a remarkable turnaround in net run rate – with New Zealand's +1.028 a massive margin ahead of Pakistan's -0.976.

With that in mind, Black Caps coach Gary Stead was pleased that his side managed to fight back from 83-5 to put on a competitive showing this morning against Pakistan, knowing that it was crucial, if required for a tiebreaker.

"I thought our guys fought really well and in the big scheme of things if we lose it's important we don't lose by big margins, the net run rate wasn't significantly affected," he told Radio Sport Breakfast.

"Lots of cricket still ahead of us – the good thing is we are in a position where, worst case scenario, we can still have a chance of being in the semifinals even if we don't win the two games.

"Today wasn't our day but it wasn't a train smash either."

It's unlikely that net run rate will be required as a tiebreaker, but even if Pakistan or Bangladesh (-0.133) do end up level on points with New Zealand, and with a better NRR, the Black Caps could yet still make the semifinals without having to win another game, as an England loss to India would ensure that they would finish ahead of the tournament hosts.

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Consider how unlikely all of the above is - and that's before even contemplating the Black Caps winning one or both of their remaining games - and that's why the bookmakers still have the Black Caps at $1.03 to qualify for their fourth consecutive semifinal.

Black Caps coach Gary Stead has admitted they got the team selection wrong. Photo / Photosport
Black Caps coach Gary Stead has admitted they got the team selection wrong. Photo / Photosport

As a result, all-rounder Jimmy Neesham doesn't believe anything has to change with their preparation or strategy ahead of their final pool games.

"We prepared for a tournament where we'd probably lose one or two games, but for us it's all about making it to the semifinals, and you're only two good games away from lifting the trophy.

"The mood in the dressing room is good. Guys were joking and laughing when I left. We're not the type of team that takes losses really hard. I think we'll have a couple of beers tonight as a team and kind of talk about how that game went, and then we'll pretty much park it, and we'll hit our scouting tomorrow morning pretty fresh.

"So for us nothing changes. We'll prepare for the next game the same way we've prepared for the last six."

With all the aforementioned scenarios in mind, with the Australia and England showdowns looming, there is thankfully a much easier equation for the Black Caps to understand.

Win, and they're in.

The Alternative Commentary Collective are podcasting their way through the World Cup. Known for their unconventional sports analysis and off-kilter banter, the ACC have come to ask the tough questions. Here's the latest episode of 'The Agenda':
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT