Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Team USA Could Cause More Upset At T20 Cricket World Cup—Here’s How They Could Reach Round 2

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Topline

The U.S. men’s cricket team is on the verge of making it to the second round of the ICC Twenty20 World Cup—a feat that would be considered a major upset—after a string of favorable results over the weekend following their shock victory against cricket giant Pakistan last week.

Key Facts

Team U.S.A. is currently ranked second among four teams in the tournament’s Group A, with four points from two wins in two games—level with table topper India, who are ranked higher due to their better scoring rate.

The top two sides in each group will advance to the Super 8s round and U.S.A.’s next two games are against India, the pre-tournament favorites and cricket’s financial powerhouse, and Ireland, who have lost both of their matches so far—including an upset loss to Canada.

Team U.S.A. will need to either pull off another massive upset by beating India in New York on Wednesday, or beat the low-on-confidence Irish team on Friday in Lauderhill, Florida, to gain two more points and end up with six points to reach the next round.

Having lost both their games so far, former world champions Pakistan can only get a maximum of four points if they win their next two games—so one more U.S.A. win would guarantee the American team being ahead of them in the table.

To qualify ahead of team U.S.A., Pakistan will have to win both their remaining games against Ireland and Canada in convincing fashion and hope that the American team loses its last two games.

In Group A, besides U.S.A. and India, Canada could also reach six points, but this is unlikely as they will need to score back-to-back wins against both India and Pakistan.

Key Background

The world championship of the “Twenty20” (T20) format, which is both the youngest and shortest version of international cricket, features matches usually lasting around three-and-a-half hours. Hosted in America and the Caribbean this year, it’s the U.S. men’s team’s first-ever appearance at the tournament—and the team has had a fairytale debut so far. In the tournament’s first game, team U.S.A. team beat Canada convincingly after a stellar batting performance by Aaron Jones. The team’s biggest win—and one of the sport’s biggest upsets—came on Thursday as they beat cricketing powerhouse Pakistan after taking the game into overtime. On Sunday, Pakistan lost a close game to their arch-rivals India, in a game billed as the biggest of the tournament, putting the men in green on the brink of elimination.

Tangent

An uncontrollable factor that could work in the U.S. team’s favor: rain. Cricket games are played in open stadiums, meaning even a slight drizzle can halt play. The rain nearly played spoilsport at the India-Pakistan game Sunday. If the game had been called off, the two teams would have had to settle for a draw receiving one point each. If the weekend’s inclement East Coast weather continues and washes out one of team U.S.A.’s remaining matches, they would move up to five points on the table and shut Pakistan out of the Super 8s. Barring a pair of miracles by Canada, this would be enough for the U.S. team to qualify.

What To Watch For

Team U.S.A’s best bet for a win will be the game against Ireland, as the Irish team has had a poor run after losing to India and Canada in their first and second games, respectively. While unlikely, a win against India is not impossible for this U.S. team as the unpredictable pitch in New York has been described as a “monster” by cricket journalists. The temporary pitch was shipped in from Adelaide, Australia, and kept in Florida during the winter months before being dropped in at the pop-up stadium in Nassau County’s Eisenhower Park. The turf has not behaved as expected, resulting in uneven bounce, low-scoring games and batters copping some body blows. Such conditions may slightly temper the threat possessed by India’s star-studded batting lineup, although the U.S. team will still need to play exceptionally well to win.

Surprising Fact

While Pakistan looks down and almost out of the competition having played only two games, long-time cricket viewers know it is nothing unusual for this mercurial side. Some of Pakistan’s greatest World Cup campaigns have begun with a series of shocking defeats, followed by strong comeback performances and often some outlandish luck. Former Pakistan coach Saqlain Mushtaq even had a phrase for this, “Qudrat ka nizam,” which roughly translates to “nature taking its course.” As an example, Pakistan began their last T20 World Cup campaign with a nail-biting loss to India and a shock defeat to an unfancied Zimbabwe side. Just as it looked like they were about to be knocked out of the competition, the Netherlands pulled off one of the most shocking wins against South Africa, knocking them out of the tournament. Pakistan moved to the semi-finals and eventually the finals, where they lost to England.

Further Reading

India-Pakistan T20 Clash In New York Today: Here’s What To Know About The Biggest Cricket Game Of The Year (Forbes)

U.S. Cricket Team Beats Pakistan In Historic Upset At T20 World Cup (Forbes)

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