Cricket-Australia ominous, Windies feeling right at home


  • Cricket
  • Tuesday, 18 Jun 2024

FILE PHOTO: Cricket - ICC T20 World Cup 2024 - Group B - Australia v England - Kensington Oval, Bridgetown, Barbados - June 8, 2024 Australia's Pat Cummins celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of England's Liam Livingstone REUTERS/Ash Allen/File Photo

(Reuters) - In what now has become almost a ritual in any cricket showpiece, Australia have swaggered into the Super Eight stage of the T20 World Cup, while West Indies have revelled in home conditions as the race for the semi-finals begins on Wednesday.

Having won the World Test Championship and the 50-overs World Cup in 2023, Australia are hoping to be the first team to hold the global titles in all three formats simultaneously.

Four comprehensive victories in the group matches suggest the Mitchell Marsh-led squad have the form and personnel to achieve that.

In what has been a low-scoring tournament, Australia are the only team to have posted two 175-plus totals and one of the three teams to hit the 200-mark.

They have looked largely unperturbed by the conditions which other teams have found difficult to master.

Familiarity with the slow pitches has served West Indies particularly well as the Rovman Powell-led side also won all four group matches to breeze into the Super Eight.

The Caribbean team did not qualify for last year's 50-overs World Cup in India but look determined to do well in a format that is their strong suit.

Daren Sammy captained West Indies to T20 World Cup titles in 2012 and 2016 and the former all-rounder has transformed the side since taking over the coaching reins.

The Caribbean team have found the right mix of youth and experience.

"We have been playing our entire career on these pitches. We're not surprised that it's slow, it's low, it's low-scoring," batter Nicholas Pooran said.

"The reason why most of our averages are 20-25 is because we bat on pitches like this.

"But we know for a fact as a group, whenever we get good pitches, we are very dangerous team and that is an advantage to us."

TITLE DROUGHT

South Africa and India have advanced as the two other teams unbeaten in the group stage though both had their struggles in the United States leg of the tournament.

India have not won a global title since the 2013 Champions Trophy and are naturally keen to end the drought.

"There is real keenness in the group to go and do something special," India captain Rohit Sharma said on Tuesday.

"That's a good way to start the second stage of the tournament."

India will play three Group 1 matches in five days but Rohit, playing what is probably his and team mate Virat Kohli's last T20 World Cup, was not worried.

"It is going to be a little hectic but we are used to all of this," he said.

Defending champions England limped into the Super Eight and Jos Buttler's team will need vastly-improved performances to grab a semi-final spot ahead of teams like Afghanistan.

The United States have been the story of the tournament after the tier-two nation stunned former champions Pakistan.

It may be a tall order for Monank Patel and his team mates in the Super Eight but the exposure against the top teams should prove invaluable in their growth.

They play South Africa in a Group 2 match in Antigua to kick off the Super Eight stage of the tournament.

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Ed Osmond)

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