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T20 World Cup: NRR to play a big role as Australia & England’s semifinal hopes hang by a thread, Ireland in the race as well

"We played some really good cricket the other night and were looking forward to this fixture against the team we know really well," Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie said after the game against Ireland was called off.

Jos Buttler and Aaron Finch have a chat with the umpires as rain delays the England-Australia Super 12 match at the MCG. (Photo: T20 World Cup/Twitter)

A washed-out day at the 2022 T20 World Cup has left Ireland in third spot in Group 1 after they shared points with Afghanistan from their abandoned Super 12 match. The Irish are just behind New Zealand and England on net run rate while both of Afghanistan’s points have come via washouts.

With the subsequent England-Australia match also abandoned without a ball being bowled, four teams (Australia, England, Ireland and New Zealand) are currently level on three points, though the Kiwis have a game in hand as do Sri Lanka (on two points).

All the teams are still in realistic contention for the two semifinal spots from this group. The Kiwis are still to face England and Ireland, Australia need to play Afghanistan and the Irish, while England are yet to take on Sri Lanka and New Zealand.

Almost all of these matches can be considered must-win games, as the losers will probably be out of contention or at least, dependent on other results going their way or sweating on net run rate.

On Wednesday, Afghanistan’s match against New Zealand had also been called off due to rain without a ball being bowled. A similar scenario played out at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Friday with no chance of even the toss taking place.

“Very disappointed to be not playing at such an amazing ground,” Afghan skipper Mohammad Nabi said. “Me and Rash (Rashid Khan) played a lot of BBL (Big Bash League) games here, but most of the players are waiting to play here. But it’s not in our hands and we look forward to the upcoming games.”

Playing after a famous win over England at the same venue, Irish skipper Andrew Balbirnie shared similar sentiments.

“Very disappointing. We played some really good cricket the other night and were looking forward to this fixture against a team we know really well. If it could have gone our way, we could have gone to Brisbane with a lot of hopes of going into the next round,” Balbirnie said.

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How can England and Australia progress?

Winning their remaining two games is certainly the most important task ahead for both Australia and England. While the hosts and the defending champions will face Ireland and Afghanistan in their last two Super 12 matches, England will have a tougher task to get the better of New Zealand and Sri Lanka in the final Group 1 meetings.

The Net Run Rate column however, favors England (+0.239) who are only behind New Zealand (+4.450). So if it comes to one spot and both of the Ashes rivals being level on points, the Jos Buttler led-side will progress through. To avoid that, Australia (-1.555) need to win their remaining two games by big margins and hope England slip.

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If the reigning ODI champions are able to fox New Zealand, the skipper believes they will have a ‘small advantage’ of playing the last match in Group 1 against the Asian champions.

Can Ireland qualify for the semifinal?

Even though they would’ve been eyeing two points against Afghanistan, three points from three games isn’t a bad place for Ireland to be. The probability of rain affecting their next two games (against Australia in Brisbane and against New Zealand in (Adelaide) is down to 20 percent.

If Ireland win both games – a tough task – they will have seven points from five games. Their net run rate will also improve in such a case. If the Kiwis beat Sri Lanka and England, Ireland will be confirmed as semifinalists.

If Ireland beat Australia and lose to New Zealand, they will have to count on the Blackcaps winning all their remaining games, beating England and Sri Lanka by big margins to dent their net run rate, as well as Australia not beating Afghanistan and overtaking them in the NRR column.

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If the Irish lose to Australia and beat New Zealand, they will progress as long as the Blackcaps win their remaining games and none of the other teams finish on more than five points. It is likely to come down to net run rate in that case.

First published on: 28-10-2022 at 15:54 IST
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