T20 World Cup 2022: Two washouts in a day at MCG push Group of Death (Group 1) onto ventilator mode
ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022, Super 12, Group 1: Australia vs England and Afghanistan vs Ireland both matches abandoned without a ball bowled at MCG; Group 1 turns into group of death now.
A disappointing day to say the least for cricket fans around the globe as both matches – Match 25, Ireland vs Afghanistan and Match 26, Australia vs England – which were supposed to be held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) got washed out without a single ball being bowled. The group of death has now become the group of natural disasters as all the four rain-affected games have come from Group 1.
For Match 25, Ireland who just beat England in their last game, would have definitely fancied their chances with conditions not being too favourable for the spin-heavy attack of Afghanistan.
For Match 26, Australia would be the happier of the two sides as with Matthew Wade down with Covid, and backup wicketkeeping options available only in the form of Glenn Maxwell and David Warner, a non-regular keeper keeping for a full 20 overs could have gone haywire.
ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022 Group 1 Points Table
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Qualification Scenarios as Group of Death (Group 1) goes onto ventilator mode
Group 1 has four out of the six teams tied at 3 points – New Zealand, England, Ireland and Australia in descending order of net run rate (NRR). All the teams except Sri Lanka and New Zealand have featured in 3 games.
New Zealand have the healthiest net run rate (NRR) of 4.450 among the Group 1 teams. While New Zealand almost look certain to make it to the next round with games left against Sri Lanka, England and Ireland. A win in one out of three matches will set them through.
The battle will be on for the second team, with England, Australia, Ireland and Sri Lanka all in it still. Three teams for one position. Australia probably have an upper hand as compared to the rest of the teams, with games left only against Ireland and Afghanistan if rain gods do not interrupt.
England have matches left with Sri Lanka and New Zealand. Sri Lanka have to face England and Afghanistan. The next few matches of Group 1 would be virtual eliminators to say the least.
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Natural Calamity or Poor Planning? Indoor games, the solution?
The International Cricket Council (ICC) must take into consideration detailed weather forecasts ahead of scheduling major tournaments. It is a given that rain is quite common in the early part of an Australian summer till the early part of November; ICC should have pre-empted this.
The alternative to MCG could have been Docklands Stadium in Melbourne, which has a retractable roof that could allow for action on the field even if heavy downpour ensues. The Docklands Stadium has featured a few Big Bash League (BBL) matches already, with Melbourne Renegades being the home side. This stadium was also used for a three-match ODI series played indoors between Australia and South Africa in the year 2000; the series was tied at 1-1 with one game ending in a tie.
With all the money involved in the game with sponsorship, online viewership and ticket sales, indoor games at centres which are prone to rain during particular periods looks more of a reality in the coming years than it has ever been before.
A reserve day too deserves contemplation for events as big as the T20 World Cup for the fans to get an opportunity to see the big teams lock horns. Imagine an India-Pakistan game which ends without a ball bowled due to rain. The tears from both the sides might have clogged the stadium with more water than the rains could ever do.
Read More: T20 World Cup 2022, Gr 1, IRE v ENG: Ireland beat 2nd-ranked side in T20Is, England at MCG