After New Zealand beat Ireland by 35 runs in their final Super 12 group, defending champions Australia needed to win by 185 runs against Afghanistan to overtake the Net Run-Rate of their Trans-Tasman rivals. However, the hosts could only score 168 for 8 in 20 overs after being invited to bat first by Afghanistan, allowing New Zealand to qualify for the knockout stage.
The Aussies also had a chance of getting past England’s Net Run-Rate if they would have restricted Afghanistan to 106 or a lower total. However, Afghanistan lost the game by a close margin of just four runs.
As of now, New Zealand are the only team to qualify for the semifinals and they are at the top spot with seven points and a Net Run-Rate (NRR) of +2.113 in Group 1 standings. It’s a direct competition now between England and Australia for the second semifinal spot from Group 1.
With the win over Afghanistan, Australia are in the second spot with 7 points and a run rate of -0.173 in five matches. On the other hand, England with five points and a run rate of +0.547 are in the third spot and their match against Sri Lanka on Saturday at the Sydney Cricket Ground will hold a lot of importance.
If Afghanistan would have beaten Australia on Friday, then Sri Lankans would have a chance to qualify for the semifinal. But, the Aussie win in that match means that Sri Lanka can now no longer finish in the final two.
So, if England now win against Sri Lanka on Saturday, they will be through to the semifinal. If England lose, Australia will qualify and if it’s rained out and it’s no result then also Australia will go to the semis.
Notably, both England and Australia qualified for the semis last time around, but this time, one of them will have to return empty-handed from the multi-nation mega event.
Sri Lanka have looked good in their two Super 12 wins — over Ireland and Afghanistan — but haven’t beaten England in a T20I since 2014. The seven results since that victory at The Oval in London have all gone England’s way, most recently with a 26-run win in last year’s T20 World Cup.
There is also a scenario in which England can top Group 1, but it would require an enormous and extremely unlikely margin of victory, around 125 runs, to leapfrog New Zealand into top spot.
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