The fascinating state of Group 1 took another turn thanks to two scoreless matches in Melbourne on Friday, with the split points meaning all sides can still qualify.
Everything remains to be played in Group 1. We take stock of the current state of things.
New Zealand are the only unbeaten team in Group 1 after two matches, and their 89-point margin win over Australia also gave them a big advantage in the Net Run Rate column.
A Net RR of +4.450 is almost as good as an extra point barring a crushing loss in the remaining matches.
Elimination and split points against Afghanistan could still go against the Kiwis, but with the rest of the group taking points from each other, it’s still the Black Caps advantage in the race. to qualifications.
New Zealand’s meeting with Sri Lanka on Saturday could see them take over the group with a win, but defeat would make Group 1 still more of a six-man fight for qualification with two rounds of fixtures remaining.
Australia or England could have taken a big step towards the semi-finals with a victory at the MCG, but Friday’s elimination means they remain level by three points with Ireland, who themselves have was eliminated against Afghanistan.
It looks like the top two could be partly determined by run rate, where after New Zealand it is Sri Lanka and England who currently hold the advantage over the rest of Group 1.
The crushing nature of Australia’s loss to New Zealand in the group opener had put them in a perilous position, not only because of the result but also because of its impact on NRR.
The tournament hosts know they can’t afford to lose another game – two losses aren’t mathematically the limit on a team’s chances of qualifying, but it’s likely to take a lot of fortune to qualify with just three wins in Super 12.
However, the chances of a successful title defense have increased – firstly thanks to victory over Sri Lanka in Perth on Tuesday, particularly thanks to a late flurry from Marcus Stoinis which saw them chase the target with more than three overs remaining, cutting some of that NRR deficit in the process.
And England’s loss to Ireland, as well as the loss between the Australians and the English in Melbourne, means the run rate looks increasingly likely to be a factor.
After three games, they have an NRR of -1.555 – the worst of the group. But, on paper at least, the matches are in Australia’s favour. The final two matches are against the lowest ranked in the group, Afghanistan and Ireland, which theoretically gives Australia an advantage if it comes down to run rate.
Momentum is not in favor of England. A rainy loss to Ireland was followed by a loss to Australia, leaving Jos Buttler’s side struggling in Group 1.
The next meeting with New Zealand is now even more significant. Win that and England can make a real statement heading into the final matchday. Defeat and qualification will be completely out of their control, or potentially completely impossible depending on the results in the meantime.
What England do know is that two big wins in their last two matches, first against the Kiwis and then against Sri Lanka, should be enough to see them through.
It might just come down to race pace, and that’s where the slightly hesitant chase against Afghanistan in England’s opener is now a bit of a problem. With Australia having the theoretically easiest games in the run-in, Buttler and co risk being usurped on goal rate if they don’t win big.
Where England have the advantage in the Net RR conundrum is that their last game is the last in the group. If qualification hopes are still alive at this stage, England will know exactly what they need against Sri Lanka to qualify – a big advantage.
New Zealand v Sri Lanka – Saturday 29 October
The composition of Group 1 will be much clearer by the end of New Zealand’s game against Sri Lanka on Saturday.
The 2022 Asian Cup champions are hoping to upset and finish in the top two of this group. But to do that, they’ll likely need to beat at least one, if not two, of the teams ranked above them in the MRF ICC Men’s T20I Team Rankings.
Sri Lanka are already on the wrong side of the outcome against the tournament hosts and can’t quite afford another defeat.
But in New Zealand, they come up against a formidable force. The 2021 T20 World Cup finalists have a well-rounded offense and a powerful batting unit, as they showed in that big win over Australia earlier in the tournament.
And with their rainy match point in Afghanistan and that superior Net RR, another win for New Zealand would see them take control of the group.
Saturday October 29: New Zealand – Sri Lanka, SCG, Sydney
Monday October 31: Australia v Ireland, The Gabba, Brisbane
Tuesday 01 November: Afghanistan – Sri Lanka, The Gabba, Brisbane
Tuesday 01 November: England – New Zealand, The Gabba, Brisbane
Friday 04 November: Ireland – New Zealand, Adelaide Oval
Friday 04 November: Australia v Afghanistan, Adelaide Oval
Saturday 05 November: Sri Lanka v England, SCG, Sydney