What England need to qualify for T20 World Cup semi-finals

Jos Buttler’s England were frustrated by the rain in Melbourne

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England and Australia’s T20 World Cup blockbuster was abandoned without a ball bowled because of persistent rain and a soggy outfield at the MCG.

Both sides collecting a point apiece – after each started their campaign with one win and one defeat – means the group remains wide open with four teams on three points and the bottom two on two.

Here we attempt to clear up the situation.

Does this result help England?

A win would have been better for their hopes of a top-two finish in the group and a semi-final place. After getting past Afghanistan last weekend, England slipped up against Ireland in midweek but a high-stakes contest against their Ashes rivals at the MCG might have been just the jolt they needed to get their campaign back on track.

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However, they remain level on three points with Australia and currently have a better net run-rate, which will become a deciding factor if both sides win their final two games.

So all England need to do is win their last two games?

It is never that simple with England. After a shock defeat and a listless performance against Ireland, it would be unwise to bet the house on England beating New Zealand on Tuesday. It is worth remembering the Black Caps eliminated England at the semi-final stage 11 months ago and their own qualification hopes are far from assured.

Get through that and England face an intriguing rendezvous with ex-coach Chris Silverwood, now at Sri Lanka, who might relish the chance to get one over on his old employers.

But, let us say England win both matches, do they go through?

Again, it is bit more complicated than that. But their destiny, as captain Jos Buttler alluded to, is probably still in their own hands.

The problem is New Zealand and Sri Lanka are far tougher opponents, at least on paper, than what Australia will face in Ireland and Afghanistan. If the hosts and defending champions thrash both their final two opponents then they could make up their inferior net run-rate.

Who else is in contention to qualify for the last four?

All of the half-dozen teams are still in with a chance. New Zealand must be highly fancied, possibly to top the group, after overcoming Australia by a thumping margin and thus swelling their own net run-rate significantly. Sri Lanka are Asia Cup champions and while bouncier Australian surfaces have historically troubled them, they gave the hosts some food for thought last time out.

Ireland, as they proved against England, cannot be taken lightly although they have never beaten Australia and New Zealand – their last two opponents – in any format. Then we come to luckless Afghanistan, who have had washouts against New Zealand and Ireland but are once more a nation that should not be underestimated.

And what about the weather?

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Well, this is something else to be taken into consideration. The incessant showers at Melbourne have been a source of frustration for players, fans and tournament organisers alike with three successive games wiped out.

England are heading to warmer and, for now, sunnier climes at Brisbane this weekend. Worryingly there is rain forecast on Tuesday and while the radar currently suggests that should clear when England take on New Zealand in the evening, that could easily change. England will be keeping their fingers crossed their performances and not the climate will dictate their tournament future.

https://sportstoft.com/%d1%81ricket/what-england-need-to-qualify-for-t20-world-cup-semi-finals/

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