With just nine Super 12 matches to go at the T20 World Cup, the semi-final push is heating up for a number of pre-tournament contenders.
While defending champions Australia ticked off their first goal by beating Ireland on Monday, they not only face a must-win game against Afghanistan on Friday in Adelaide but will rely on other results (or margins) going to their way in a fascinating Group 1 struggle .
South Africa sent a warning on Sunday night by defeating fellow Group 2 heavyweight India, while Pakistan are clinging to the faintest hopes they can still advance.
And for those teams whose semi-final ambitions might already be beyond them, the carrot of automatic qualification to the 2024 T20 World Cup means there’s still plenty to play for.
Here’s a team-by-team look at their semi-final chances.
Results so far: beat Australia, washout with Afghanistan, beat Sri Lanka, lost to England
Games to come: Ireland (Friday, Adelaide)
Defeat to England on Monday night was a blow, but the Black Caps’ T20 World Cup fate remains in their own hands owing largely to a strong net run rate (NRR). Put simply, victory over Ireland in Adelaide on Friday afternoon will hand them top spot in Group 1 and an opportunity to make a second consecutive T20 World Cup final. Defeat, however, leaves them relying on either Australia losing to Afghanistan (a match immediately following their clash against Ireland), as whoever takes the points from England versus Sri Lanka would overtake New Zealand in that scenario.
Results so far: beat Afghanistan, lost to Ireland (DLS), washout with Australia, beat New Zealand
Games to come: Sri Lanka (Saturday, SCG)
Victory against the Black Caps has propelled England into pole position in their battle with Australia for a semi-final spot. Should they prevail against Sri Lanka on Saturday, Jos Buttler’s side will likely progress to the final four. However there is a scenario whereby England win and still don’t progress, owing to NRR, which would rely on their victory over Sri Lanka being slim and Australia thrashing Afghanistan by a considerable margin. Should either Australia or New Zealand lose to Afghanistan or Ireland respectively (matches that take place a day prior to their clash against Sri Lanka), NRR would not come in the equation, and England would simply progress with any form of victory.
Results so far: Lost to NZ, beat Sri Lanka, washout with England, beat Ireland
Game to come: Afghanistan (Friday, Adelaide)
England’s win over New Zealand at the Gabba has left Australia with a tricky path to the semi-finals. The hosts are now relying on upsets in the final round of Group 1 matches, or a huge victory over Afghanistan to beef up a lowly NRR. Should either of those upsets occur – that is, Ireland defeat New Zealand or Sri Lanka defeat England – the Aussies would progress to the semi-finals with any form of victory over the Afghans. Should results go as expected, however, Australia (NRR -0.3) would need to seal a huge win to not only overtake England (NRR +0.55) but give themselves enough of a buffer to shield themselves from Jos Buttler’s side leapfrogging them again. Just to overtake England’s NRR alone, Australia would need to beat Afghanistan by approximately 60 runs if batting first, or chase a target of 140 in roughly 13 overs. England also have the advantage of playing their match on Saturday, after Australia’s match against Afghanistan on Friday, which could make captain Aaron Finch’s tactical approach at the Adelaide Oval a fascinating watch.
Results so far: lost to Sri Lanka, beat England (DLS), washout with Afghanistan, lost to Australia
Game to come: New Zealand, (Friday, Adelaide)
Their semi-final dream is officially over after being beaten by the Aussies, and things will not get any easier for the Irish with New Zealand to come. Their goal now is a good showing against New Zealand but unless they can cause a second major upset and win that game they will finish no higher than fifth, meaning they will have a nervous wait to see if they will automatically qualify for the 2024 T20 World Cup (more on that process at the bottom of this article).
Results so far: beat Ireland, lost to Australia, lost to NZ, beat Afghanistan
Games to come: England (Saturday, SCG)
After victory over Afghanistan, Sri Lanka are still in with a semi-final chance, although they need an awful lot to go their way to progress. First and foremost, they need either Ireland to upset New Zealand on Friday afternoon OR Afghanistan to upset Australia in the game immediately following. Then, on Saturday, they must knock off England in what is set to be an exciting clash at the SCG.
Results so far: Lost to England, washout v New Zealand, washout v Ireland, lost to Sri Lanka
Games to come: Australia (Friday, Adelaide)
Defeat to Sri Lanka on Tuesday spelled the end of any remote Afghanistan hopes this T20 World Cup, but in truth it was Melbourne’s big wet that ruined their chances after two MCG washouts against New Zealand and Ireland respectively. While they cannot progress beyond the match against Australia in Adelaide, there’s little chance they will view the clash as a dead rubber in what is a rare chance to send the T20 World Cup hosts packing.
Results so far: washout with Zimbabwe, beat Bangladesh, beat India
Games to come: Pakistan (Thursday, SCG), Netherlands (Sunday, Adelaide)
The Proteas already have one foot in the semi-finals, and if not for rain in Hobart would likely be unbeaten with an even stronger claim. Their win over India was a resounding warning to the opposition, and one more win is needed to secure a semi-final berth.
Results so far: beat Pakistan, beat Netherlands, lost to South Africa
Games to come: Bangladesh (Wednesday, Adelaide), Zimbabwe (Sunday, MCG)
The victory over Pakistan had them riding high until the Proteas brought them back down to earth. Pakistan’s stumbles elsewhere, and winnable games to come mean a semi-final spot is within grasp, but will it be as first or second seed in their group?
Results so far: beat Netherlands, lost to South Africa, beat Zimbabwe
Games to come: India (Wednesday, Adelaide), Pakistan (Sunday, Adelaide)
They face a difficult run home, but if the Tigers can beat both India and Pakistan then a semi-final spot would be theirs. Sounds simple enough on paper … but Bangladesh scraped home against Zimbabwe amid final-ball drama, and while India did show a weakness against South Africa, Bangladesh will be wary of a response. If they lose both matches, they’d be in danger of finishing fifth in the group and then would face a nervous wait to see if they could secure automatic qualification for the 2024 T20 World Cup.
Results so far: washout with South Africa, beat Pakistan, lost to Bangladesh
Games to come: Netherlands (Wednesday, Adelaide), India (Sunday, MCG)
The Chevrons have given a great account of themselves in this tournament, winning through the first round and proving no walkover in the Super 12, derailing Pakistan’s campaign and coming oh-so-close to beating Bangladesh as well. They will fancy themselves against the Dutch, and with nothing to lose loom as a dangerous opponent for India. If they can pull off a win in both remaining games a semi-final spot would be theirs. They could also play a pivotal role in Pakistan’s slim chances of an unlikely semi-final berth
Results so far: lost to India, lost to Zimbabwe, beat Netherlands
Games to come: South Africa (Thursday, SCG), Bangladesh (Sunday, Adelaide)
The last gasp loss to India hurt, but the defeat to Zimbabwe is really where their campaign came unstuck. But Pakistan fans will be clinging to hope that they remain a mathematical possibility of reaching the semi-finals. Pakistan need to win both remaining games, handsomely, and at the same time hope for a series of unlikely events to all fall in their favour. Firstly, they need the Dutch to beat Zimbabwe on Wednesday afternoon, otherwise they will be eliminated before they next take the field. Beating an in-form South Africa outfit will be no mean feat, and in this tournament a win against Bangladesh can’t be guaranteed either. But if they can manage two wins there, they will then need Zimbabwe to knock off India on Sunday evening in Adelaide. If that happens, it will be down to NRR with the arch-rivals both finishing with three wins apiece.
Results so far: lost to Bangladesh, lost to India, lost to Pakistan
Games to come: Zimbabwe (Wednesday, Adelaide), South Africa (Sunday, Adelaide)
The Dutch side will be targeting Wednesday’s match with Zimbabwe as their best hope for a win in the Super 12 stage, and as explained above, will have all of Pakistan supporting them. They face the South Africans in their final game on Sunday, and the very real prospect of going winless in the Super 12 stage looms. Should that happen it’s likely they will face returning to the regional qualifiers for the 2024 T20 World Cup.
2024 T20 World Cup qualification explained
Results in this current tournament will go a long way to determining the line-up for the next T20 World Cup, to be co-hosted by the USA and West Indies in 2024. That tournament will be expanded to feature 20 teams for the first time , with 12 teams to be awarded automatic qualification.
The two co-hosts will get immediate entry, as well as the top eight teams from the current tournament in Australia – ie, those finishing in the top four in each Super 12 group.
The final two automatic qualification spots will be the next two highest ranked teams on the ICC’s T20 team rankings at November 14 (the day after the current tournament concludes).
That puts extra emphasis on matches like Afghanistan v Sri Lanka, and Netherlands v Zimbabwe in the current Super 12 stage.
The remaining eight spots at the World Cup will come via regional qualifier tournaments with the top two teams from events in Africa, Asia and Europe winning through, as well as one apiece from the Americas and East Asia Pacific groups.