When England take to the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday to take on Sri Lanka, they know exactly what to do to qualify for the semi-finals. First they have to win. Even a small margin is enough, as their current net run rate (0.547) is already enough to beat Australia (-0.173). Australia squandered the chance to take a massive win over Afghanistan on Friday and now depends on Sri Lanka to please them by beating England.
It should have been a triple showdown in one day. Just like with other sports. Instead, cricket fans are robbed of the thrill as the International Cricket Council (ICC) placed the final round of Group 1 on two different days. However, they have not followed the same logic with Group 2. On Sunday all six teams will play their final game, with India going up against Zimbabwe in MCG in what will be the final draw of the group stage. But why hasn’t the ICC at least followed a similar strategy with the Australian group?
Pressure makes the mind do many things. If all the matches had been played on the same day, England would have been under pressure to win, or who knows if Australia would have been even better against Afghanistan. “We’ll stay here and watch that game, hoping to get a little upset,” Matthew Wade said later, before thanking the mess they had caused. “We put ourselves in that situation, tried to chase a little run rate, but it hasn’t gone our way.”
England, on the other hand, have plenty of time – almost 20 hours to be exact – to plan their game. And they had no qualms about admitting that the schedule turned out to be in their favour. “I think it plays to our advantage. Look at what happens today, and then we can adapt to what needs tomorrow. I think we’re pretty confident in whatever we need to do, we have the skills and firepower to do it.” to do,” says Alex Hales, their top-order T20 specialist.
England need not think too much this time. But net run rates can be such a tricky affair that even a run or a wicket can change it somewhat. T20 has cracked the game down to a manageable size that it can now afford to have concurrent games to determine the best team in a deadlock. But it remains to be seen whether the ICC is open to making the T20 World Cup a truly fair tournament by not giving away time advantages like this one.
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