@Ben_Wisden 3 minute read
England’s victory against New Zealand has left Group 1 tantalisingly poised heading into the final round of fixtures ahead of the T20 World Cup semi-finals.
England, New Zealand and Australia are all tied on five points, with Sri Lanka on four points just behind. New Zealand have the best net run rate of the three, with England second and Australia third. Here is how things stand:
To recap, net run rate is the difference between a team’s overall run rate while batting and their overall run rate conceded while bowling. It is not an intuitive metric. It is possible for a team to win and for the net run rate to decrease, and not all wins of the same margin are equal – a one-run win scoring 120 batting first would harm England’s net run rate more than a one-run win defending 200.
This means it’s hard to come up with an exact, exhaustive list of who needs what, for every scenario, every total, and every length of game. But let’s give it a go.
First, New Zealand, if they beat Ireland, are almost certainly through. Even if they tie and need a super over to go through, their net run rate will be 1.675. England would need to beat Sri Lanka by nearly 100 runs, or chase down a target in 10 overs or fewer to overtake that marker. Australia would need to beat Afghanistan by 150 runs or so. Even bowling Afghanistan for 60 and then chasing it down in three overs would not be enough.
So, if New Zealand get their two points, the key head to head is between Australia and England. A win by 61 runs (or thereabouts) or chasing a total of 140 in 13 overs would see them overtake England’s current net run rate.
However, a smaller margin wouldn’t necessarily see them out of contention, net run rate wise. Should England tie with Sri Lanka with both sides bowled out for nought and then win a super over (this is, admittedly, unlikely), their net run rate would drop to 0.349. An Australia win with 5.2 overs in the hunt or by 47 runs or so would keep them in the hunt.
More realistically, if England win by one run defending 160, their net run rate would be 0.417. Australia would need to win by 51 or 52 runs or so batting first to overtake that (the more runs scored, the fewer they would have to win by), or chase down a target of 140 inside 14 overs. Again, the more runs scored the better, in a way – if they chase 200, then doing so within 15 overs would be enough for them to overtake England, though clearly they are less likely to chase a big total that quickly than a small one.
Any margin of victory greater than that would increase England’s task, at a roughly equivalent rate. For example, should Australia score 200 and win by 62 runs, England would need to win by 13 runs or so.
Australia’s best chance for a big swing is likely to be to bat first and go for a huge win in terms of runs, which generally gives a bigger change than when chasing. But given this has been a World Cup of shocks and thrillers, perhaps their best chance is to win their game as best they can, and then hope Sri Lanka can do them a favour, rather than getting too stuck in the spreadsheets.
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