Dubai: The Twenty20 World Cup has been only gloom for some, thanks to the rains that had played havoc to the schedule and the team’s aspirations. Four of the 14 Super 12 matches have been rained off in the World Cup so far, while England lost to Ireland on Duckworth-Lewis method against Ireland when it came to an early close.
The double-header in Melbourne, where the Ashes rivals England and Australia were also involved, was a washout without a ball being bowled leaving the Group 1 wide open with all teams level on points. But there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel. Some sunshine, which is likely to bring bright smiles on the players’ faces.
The rains have taken a break over the next few days and New Zealand, the table-toppers of Group 1, will be eager to get more points on board after missing out against Afghanistan. The Black Caps, who shocked the defending world champions Australia, take on Sri Lanka in Sydney with all other teams in the Group watching this game with great interest and a calculator in their hands as the result could alter their chances.
There is also no rain threat to the Sunday’s triple-header, which also involves India and Pakistan, who cannot afford any drop in points in the race to the semi-finals.
Rains are back again in full force after a two-day weekend. Hosts Australia could be in danger of losing another point to Ireland on Monday, as there is a 40 per cent chance of a rain in Brisbane. But bad luck seems to be following England whose crucial clash against New Zealand is likely to be a washout on Tuesday with a 95 per cent chance of a rain.
Though Sri Lanka and Afghanistan play at the same venue earlier in the day, it might not be of consequence as they occupy the bottom of the table currently. Should Sri Lanka beat New Zealand on Saturday, then the game against Afghanistan will assume greater importance and the Asia Cup champions will be eager to avenge the drubbing they received at the hands of Afghanistan in the continental showpiece opener.
Action then shifts to Adelaide and rains are awaiting the players there and wet days are predicted from November 1-4 and the next forecast is expected on Saturday.
New Zealand lead Group 1 on three points — the same as England, Ireland and holders Australia — but the Black Caps have a better net run-rate and a game in hand.
The showdown between Ashes rivals England and Australia had been billed as a must-win for both sides after each had won one and lost one.
“It is a shame tonight, especially for everybody involved. All the fans who were going to come and watch this game live, everybody wanting to watch it on TV,” England captain Jos Buttler said.
“For players especially as well, Australia v England at the MCG in a must-win World Cup match is as big as it gets in your career and they are the games you want to be involved in.
“And no matter what the result was going to be, it’s something you want to experience as a cricketer.”
Australian skipper Aaron Finch said of the sodden MCG: “The outfield has taken a drenching over the last couple of weeks, as wet as I’ve ever seen it.”
Ireland skipper Andrew Balbirnie expressed his frustration after the rain also denied his giant-killers a crack at a win over Afghanistan.
The Irish were pumped up after stunning England by five runs on Wednesday in a rain-affected encounter, but the wet weather checked their momentum against winless Afghanistan. The Afghans have now had two games abandoned.
Balbirnie said the situation was “very disappointing”. “We played some really good cricket the other night and were looking forward to this fixture against a team we know really well,” he said.
“We spoke a lot about it after the England game, about backing up that performance and coming out here and playing some good cricket. We didn’t get to show what we could do today, unfortunately.
“If it could have gone our way we could have gone to Brisbane (to play Australia) with a lot of hopes of going into the next round.”
Ireland had form against the Afghans, winning a five-match T20 series 3-2 earlier this year.
Afghanistan are bottom of the group and skipper Mohammad Nabi was equally disappointed.
“We were fully ready … the plan was to put a score on the board and bring the spinners into the game during the chase,” he said.
Forecasters are blaming La Nina for heavier-than-usual downpours and cooler temperatures in northern and eastern Australia and said they expect the weather system to hang around for the whole of November — the rest of the World Cup.
Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology is predicting showers all next week in Melbourne but the city does not host another World Cup game until November 6, the MCG’s penultimate match before the final.
Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Sydney will stage matches in the coming days. They are a mixed bag of sunshine and showers, with Brisbane mostly dry and sunny but Adelaide looking wet and even stormy.
Buttler was in philosophical mood. “Naturally we play a sport which is in the open air and the elements are a huge part of our game,” he said.
“They affect the surfaces we play on, they affect conditions... (it’s) what makes our sport really unique.”
But pressed by reporters if the integrity of the World Cup was at stake, Buttler conceded: “If you have multiple games affected by the weather, it certainly doesn’t probably give you as truer a reflection” of the tournament.
— With inputs from AFP