It had to come down to the final weekend of the ICC Twenty20 World Cup's Super 12's, for the four semi finalists to pick themselves or be given a backdoor entry, as the case may be. For the World Cup, it couldn't have gotten any better because nothing adds spice like a contest between fierce rivals. Take your pick.

When India's first match against Pakistan was scheduled, even weeks before the World Cup, the hype reached fever pitch. All other matches and contests seemed to pale in comparison. It was not until India won the humdinger and the Indian cricket team collectively breathed a sigh of relief after Virat Kohli architected India's resurrection from an early collapse that the tournament itself started to find its feet in the eyes of the cricket world.

But the upsets were already ongoing in the week before when Sri Lanka and the West Indies were tasting the bitter dose of not pulling up their socks. They let the passion and determination of minnows such as Namibia ride forth. And it took a final weekend of upsets and shocks for at least two teams to make it thus far.

South Africa have unfortunately kept their World Cup shenanigans a talking point. Forgotten in a hurry is the win they pulled off rather impressively against India. The fans went into collective mourning in the early hours of the rest of the world, the only match that was scheduled for a 5 a.m. start Indian time, waking up to South Africa stumbling on the threshold of the semi-finals, to the Netherlands of all teams.

While the Netherlands can boast of two scalps going out of the World Cup, having pulled the rug from under England's feet before the latter scrapped themselves together and dusted the humiliation off, South Africa were almost set to fall when they hiccupped rather alarmingly against Pakistan who couldn't seem to get their batsmen to do what their bowlers were going, set the cat amongst the pigeons along the rank and file of their opposition, throughout the team, until this match.

South Africa will look back and point to and be pointed at for the bizarre, almost anxious, manner in which they went about their batting to overcome the Netherlands' decent score. They will also look back at opportunities and confidence lost when Pakistan clawed their way back on the backs of Iftikhar and Shadab Khan who steadied a collapsing a batting line up and then gave the bowlers a fair chance at shaking the South Africa's tower, which until that penultimate match seemed steady as a rock. South Africa had let a sinking Pakistan slip through their fingers and so did the World Cup as it turned out when the pressure became a virtual do or die on Sunday, which will not help their sometimes-unfair chokers tag.

But didn't Jos Butler remind the world that one match was all it took to fell South Africa the last time round? The Netherlands might want to send Pakistan a thank you card because they did soften the South African pack and set in the doubts.

But Pakistan too will have sent a bouquet to the Netherlands because had it not been for that shocker of a result. Pakistan and Bangladesh for that matter were facing backlash back home. The results had virtually put them out of contention for even competing for the semi finals. A bare mathematical chance, was how the cricket pundits denounced their efforts even back home.

The fact that their match suddenly became a knockout was just what the organisers needed. Sunday morning, Indian subcontinent time, suddenly became more interesting.

While Bangladesh couldn't lift themselves, Pakistan were bounding at the opportunity. Although it nearly went down to the wire, the result seemed a foregone conclusion, barring a hiccup or two which although Pakistan ran close, steered clear of in the end.

After the morning's parade of shocking contenders, surprise winners and deflated teams, India's match against Zimbabwe became even more evident as the only match in the Twenty20 World Cup's busy Super 12 week that had no bearing on the final four. India though did not want to lose the winning momentum, not after they were given a rude awakening by South Africa and it seemed everything went to plan for the one team that in the end, seemed the most comfortable team qualifying for the semi final spot.

Saturday's evening was all gloom for the defending champions. Australia kept making their life hard for themselves, beginning ominously losing rather heavily to New Zealand in their opening match and thereafter, always seeming to carry their scrap bucket with them with a run rate they could not catch up with and ran out of steam.

They could win but they would not be able to change the course of that debacle of a run rate, which became the gift that New Zealand gave them in that opening Saturday match between the Trans Tasmanian rivals. Ultimately Australia had to hope that Sri Lanka would beat their historic rivals England in the final Group 1 clash to let them through the back door.

England were having none of it and Sri Lanka ended their World Cup run as they had started it, on a whimper, just as well silently shutting the door on the unimpactful Australian team whose hopes of winning a back to back ICC Twenty20 World Cup, particularly on home soil, bit the dust on the fateful Saturday.

The tournament though has a final great script to boot. All that remains is for the four competing teams to show up as their best selves and bring the game down to the wire as they have been for many a match this season, and perhaps follow the World Cup pages to create more historic encounters that sponsors, advertisers and organisers would need no effort talking up.

While another potential India versus Pakistan match, that too in the final of a World Cup, makes it an easy pick for the organisers, given how much revenue it generates even at the late hour, there is an equally interesting facet to the story should that not be the outcome.

Should India and Pakistan both lose their respective semi-finals to England and New Zealand, which would be blasphemous to the Indian sub continent's billion and then some cricket fans and to cricket's neutral but passionate fans not to mention the heavily banking sponsors, the game itself would not entirely be a loser because they would have another World Cup rivalry to add pages to.

Many felt New Zealand deserved to tie with England after that epic final match at Lord's in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. While England were declared winners in the match that went deep into that epoch making evening to give England their first World Cup trophy after being dubbed the bridesmaid, New Zealand walked away with broken hearts but also, winning many hearts and fans around them, as they had too vied for their first ever World Cup trophy, having lost their previous final encounter in 2015 to Australia without much to write home about.

New Zealand, who have always traditionally been the underdogs but played out of their skins when it came to World Cups in the sport of cricket, had another chance when the inaugural ICC World Test championship was held at Lord's in June of 2021.

A surprise finalist after Australia lost the opportunity to qualify, losing their final points by way of forfeit after refusing to tour South Africa over covid implications, New Zealand showed they were not wet behind the ears, winning the final against India in the final hour to make it a rare Test match that kept the fans hooked to the match at Lord's, giving Test cricket the fillip it needed.

There are painful defeats New Zealand will want to avenge. Their ICC Cricket World Cup has been brutal on both of the last occasions, losing to Australia rather tamely in 2015 and then declared the losing team after the 2019 final went down to the Super Over. If they were to get past Pakistan here, it would give them a chance at redemption in the limited overs game.

Pakistan has been given a second lease of life. While the adage remains true that one never knows which Pakistan team will take the field, there is no telling what the prospect of an epic encounter with India in the final will do to the team. The fact that this semi final is scheduled ahead of India's encounter with England will mean that the idea of vengeance where Pakistan have historically not done well against India and went down painfully in the end to a more pugnacious India in their first match of this edition, is likely to fire them up.

England and New Zealand will want to keep their recent impressive World Cup history and also, bank on another showdown of an encounter after the cricket world was bitterly divided over the outcome of the 2019 final to validate themselves.

There is a lot to play for and hype. It is hard to tell what the final will laud about if these semi final encounters produce results other than the two foretold here. There is every bit that possibility as two other outcomes are still on the cards.

For the cricket world that has tasted so much rivalry and competition and edge of the seat action, it is not hard to see what outcome the fans want at the end of the two high profile semi final clashes.