LAUDERHILL: Match officials inspect the field for the Group A match between the USA and Ireland at the Central Broward Park & Broward County Stadium on Friday.—AFP
LAUDERHILL: Match officials inspect the field for the Group A match between the USA and Ireland at the Central Broward Park & Broward County Stadium on Friday.—AFP

LAUDERHILL (Florida): The United States’ T20 World Cup group match against Ireland was washed out on Friday, ensuring the co-hosts’ progress to the Super Eight knockout stage at the expense of former champions Pakistan.

Unrelenting rain, which had put South Florida at risk of life-threatening flooding, resulted in a wet outfield when the teams arrived. Although the rain stopped in the morning and groundstaff spent hours working to dry the wet outfield, umpires called off the game when a huge downpour ended any hope after several inspections.

The two teams will receive a point each meaning the USA, with five points, will progress to the Super Eights along with Group ‘A’ winners India (six points) who are due to play Canada on Saturday in what is now a dead rubber.

Third-placed Pakistan (two points) cannot finish in the top two even if they beat Ireland on Sunday in their final group game.

Only the top two teams from the four groups advance to the Super Eight and the USA have also automatically qualified for the 2026 T20 World Cup in India and Sri Lanka.

The USA qualified for this T20 World Cup only as a co-hosts with the West Indies, but have used home advantage to make a stunning first impression in their first global cricket tournament.

Partly made up of men moonlighting as cricketers when not doing their primary jobs, the USA beat Canada in the tournament opener before stunning Pakistan in a match that went to a Super Over.

If their performance so far in the event is any indication, the home team is making a sincere attempt at getting the NFL, MLB and NBA-loving Americans to consider watching cricket in near future.

The starting point of USA’s upsurge in the game was the morale-boosting T20I series victory over Bangladesh just prior to the showpiece.

The US team comprises eight cricketers of Indian descent, most of them on temporary H1-B visas that allow companies to hire overseas employees, who are trying to revive the sport 180 years after the country hosted the first-ever international cricket match, between USA and Canada at the St George’s Cricket Club in New York way back in 1844, 33 years before England and Australia played in their first Test match.

After their shock loss the US, Pakistan squandered a big chance to get themselves back into the Super Eights race when they failed to chase down 120 against India.

They overcame Canada to keep their faint hopes alive, which came to an end once the game between the USA and Ireland was abandoned without a ball being bowled.

Published in Dawn, June 15th, 2024

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