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T20 World Cup Preview: Week 3

THINGS are heating up in the T20 World Cup group stages and there’s plenty of enticing fixtures coming up this week.

Here’s a look at some of our key match ups for this week; 

Australia vs Bangladesh (Thursday, 9pm) 

Australia’s equation is remarkably simple. Win both games and they are a chance of going through to the knockout stage. Lose one and they are relying on South Africa to lose to England, as well as an unlikely net run rate reversal. 

Bangladesh have been a picture of inconsistency throughout this tournament, in conditions which should suit them. Still, they had their way with Australia in a recent home T20 series in what could be described as similar conditions. Shakib Al Hasan has been the main man for the Tigers once again, taking 11 wickets at under six runs per over.  

Given Australia’s well-noted struggles with spin throughout not just this tournament, but in general, they will need him to be off his game to score enough runs. David Warner did return to form last time out though for the men in green and gold, while Glenn Maxwell has shown promising signs in the middle order. 

Bangladesh’s batting has been fragile though, illustrated again against South Africa on Tuesday evening, and it’s there that Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood will need to expose them with the new ball, before Adam Zampa and co follow up.  

Australia should get the win, but it’s not a certainty. 


Australia vs West Indies (Saturday, 9pm) 

This one should be a far greater test for Justin Langer’s side, but again, the West Indies are inconsistent just like Bangladesh. In another striking similarity, the West Indies recently crushed Australia in their own home T20I series. 

The West Indies are oh so dangerous with the bat. From the power of Evin Lewis, to Chris Gayle and through the middle order with the likes of Andre Russell, they can go from nothing to plenty in a hurry. Lewis in particular is sitting fifth for most sixes in the tournament, and unless Australia’s bowling is perfect, they could find themselves chasing a mammoth score, or not nearly having enough runs to defend. 

The West Indies are all but out of contention for the semi-finals though, which should work in Australia’s favour. A West Indies team with nothing to play for could switch well off the boil, but the Aussies will need to make the most of some lacklustre bowling, led by Warner and Maxwell, but backed up by the likes of Steve Smith, who needs to show more intent than he has done at times throughout the opening three games. 

Like the Bangladesh game, Australia should win, but it doesn’t come without its ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ as to why the West Indies are better than a small chance of ruining the party and grabbing an upset, if it could be called that. 

England vs South Africa (Sunday, 1am) 

England will come into this game undefeated, but with a few days off in the leadup, will be able to use it as a tune up for the semi-finals. South Africa aren’t yet guaranteed a place in the final four, but with a win over Bangladesh on Tuesday evening, they will know the equation heading into this contest. If Australia win both of their games, then it’s must-win, otherwise with an already superior net run rate, they could be expected to go through regardless. 

Whether a result is needed or not, the Proteas will still want to use this match as a tune up against the tournament’s top team thus far. They have been incredibly impressive as a team thus far, and even without standout performers, have looked very solid.  

The key to their game here will be slowing down Jos Buttler, who has started the tournament like a house on fire, cracking 214 runs without being dismissed to sit at the top of the run-scoring charts thus far.  

On the back of that, plus England’s dominating bowling, which routed the West Indies for 55, South Africa’s way through to the semi-finals will be not needing to win here. England to take an undefeated record out of the group stage. 

New Zealand vs Afghanistan (Sunday, 9pm) 

At the time of writing, this game looks like it could carry significant weight come Sunday evening. New Zealand are likely to beat Scotland in their next match, which will leave the two teams equal on two wins from three games. If they both go on to win their fourth match, then this could be sudden death cricket come early. 

New Zealand, on paper, are the stronger team and you’d expect them to have no problems knocking over Afghanistan, but cricket isn’t played on paper. And what’s more, these conditions suit Afghanistan down to the ground, and will only do more as the tournament progresses and pitches become more and more fatigues. 

That means Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman will come into their own, and outside of Kane Williamson, New Zealand don’t have excellent means of playing spin. While they flogged India in their last clash, it was Trent Boult who led the way. Ish Sodhi has been in excellent form and will need to bowl excellently to control the Afghani batters. 

New Zealand are rightfully favourites and while it’s not possible to tip against them, don’t expect this to be one way traffic. 


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