T20 World Cup Wrap: Group 1 take their final bow
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Kristy Havill

An intriguing final Group 1 double header awaits us tonight (23:00pm NZT) and tomorrow morning (3:00am NZT), with Australia and South Africa, both on six points, needing wins and potentially some maths to fall in their favour to progress to the semi-finals.

Australia are up first in Abu Dhabi against the eliminated West Indies, whose form has yo-yo’d, so the men in yellow will be the favourites after they steamrolled Bangladesh. However, the West Indies hasn’t owned the ‘giant-killers’ tag in the past for nothing.

For several West Indian players, it may be the last time we see them in international colours, unless they hang on for 12 more months for the next edition. Even so, the extra motivation will be there to bow out in their customary style, full of flair.

We’ve seen glimpses of the potential that has carried them to two T20 World Cup titles, with handy knocks from Nicholas Pooran and Evin Lewis at different stages, and a glittering 81 not out by Shimron Hetmeyer against Sri Lanka. There just haven’t been runs at the top of the order to allow them to build a platform. Their bowling attack has also lacked some genuine wicket taking venom, evidenced by their five wickets against Sri Lanka being the highest number they’ve taken in a match this tournament.

Adam Zampa, on the other hand, took that many in Australia’s eight wicket victory over the winless Bangladesh side. The leg-spinner’s 5/19 from his four overs earned him player of the match honours (his second in three games) and is up there with one of the spells of the tournament to date. With eight wickets in four matches, he will be key for Australia as they look to progress.

We finally witnessed the hitting power of Mitchell Marsh, talked up pre-tournament. After missing out on an opportunity in their opener against South Africa when he was batting at three, he wasn’t required against Sri Lanka and was omitted against England.

Despite chasing a lowly total, where the damage had been done by the old firm of Aaron Finch and David Warner, Marsh demonstrated his capability as he launched two fours and a six to win the game for his country. He finished 16 not out off just five balls at an eye watering strike rate of 320.

Whether Australia win or lose, they’ll wait with bated breath as the action goes down in Sharjah between England and South Africa. England has secured their ticket to the semi-finals, but South Africa have it all to play for in the race to that second playoffs spot.

After a rocky start with a loss to Australia in their opener and the Quinton de Kock furore before the West Indies match, South Africa have put their head down and resolutely marched on. Their three wins against the West Indies, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh will give them confidence, but they’ll need to find a way to drop the clutch and slip things into fifth gear against a soaring England outfit.

Captain Temba Bavuma and Aiden Markram have been batting standouts, but they’ll need some runs elsewhere in the order to be in the game. De Kock would be a good candidate and perhaps he can make amends for the controversy he stirred early doors.

Kagiso Rabada is always a menace with the new ball in hand, however there are plenty of viable wicket taking options in their line-up. Tabraiz Shamsi will be one to keep an eye on with his left arm wrist spin – not often seen in world cricket. His last outing in Sharjah against Sri Lanka netted him player of the match honours with three wickets at a measly 4.25 economy rate from his four overs. He’ll be looking to replicate that form again.

England has been dealt a huge injury blow with left arm seamer Tymal Mills ruled out for the remainder of the tournament. His searing pace and world class slower balls, which saw him take seven wickets in four matches, will be missed for the English.

Of the six matches in Sharjah so far in the Super 12 stage (not including NZ v Namibia), honours are even when it comes to the team bowling second going on to claim the win. England haven’t been put under pressure yet when chasing a substantial total, so having a dip with the bat first may be something for South Africa to consider.

If SA can get a good total on the board and have the confidence to take top and middle order wickets, it will be fascinating to see how England respond to the pressure. 


*Kristy Havill is a Canterbury Magicians cricketer, and a former world championship silver medallist in clay target shooting. Her Twenty20 World Cup columns on Stuff are courtesy of Sky TV, which is broadcasting the tournament live.​​​​​​​