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The highs and lows on the road to the T20 World Cup Super Eights

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Here, we look back at the highs and lows of the past fortnight ahead of the Super Eight stage.

Afghanistan’s Fazalhaq Farooqi bowls during the ICC men’s Twenty20 World Cup 2024 group C cricket match against the West Indies at Daren Sammy Cricket Ground in Gros Islet, St. Lucia, June 17, 2024. Picture:TIMOTHY A CLARY, AFP

THE ICC Men’s T20 World Cup group stage ran its race on Monday evening when co-hosts the West Indies walloped Afghanistan by 104 runs in St Lucia.

It brought to a close a fascinating phase of the competition in which there has been plenty of excitement on show. Here, we look back at the highs and lows of the past fortnight ahead of the Super Eight stage starting today.

HIGHS

Cricket coming to America: International cricket was staged in the US for the first time, and while there was criticism of the pitch and outfield at the newly constructed Nassau County Ground in New York, the game was greeted with great excitement in the land of stars and stripes. The co-hosts managing to shock Pakistan to qualify for the Super Eight phase was the icing on the already frosted cake.

West Indies revival: The Windies have had a reawakening of sorts over the past two weeks. The only nation to have won the Men’s T20 World Cup twice have been excellent, winning all four of their matches. The unique aspect of the Windies team is that they are a collective of independent islands, with players from each of the islands making up the side. This has resulted in boisterous support at all their matches rendering a carnival atmosphere.

Proteas holding their nerve: Pressure, major ICC tournaments and the Proteas have not traditionally been good bedfellows. But here in the US and Caribbean, Aiden Markram’s team have shown they do not fear the nerve-racking moments. The Proteas have already claimed two last-ball victories, with their last match against Nepal in St Vincent and the Grenadines being particularly special.

Cranes flying high: While it has primarily been a baptism of fire for Uganda in their maiden ICC major experience, the African nation could celebrate a win over fellow tournament debutants Papua New Guinea to at least have something to celebrate back home.

Fireball Farooqi: Despite the mauling he suffered in the final match against the Windies, Afghanistan seamer Fazalhaq Farooqi is still the leading wicket-taker after the group stage. Farooqi tore through Uganda with career-best figures of 5/19, and followed it up with a match-winning haul of 4/17 against New Zealand before another 3/16 performance against PNG.

LOWS

Calamitous Pakistan: The 2009 champions have been a shadow of themselves at this tournament. After opening the tournament with a loss to the USA that sent shockwaves through the cricket world, Pakistan then suffered a further meltdown in the mega clash against India in New York. There was to be no great escape from those two defeats as new coach Gary Kirsten’s side tumbled out of the competition after the first round.

End of the road for Black Caps? New Zealand have made a habit of punching above their weight to become habitual semi-finalists at major tournaments. Along the way they have reached successive 50-over World Cup finals (2015, 2019) and even won the ICC Test Championship with their golden generation of players. Unfortunately, this all came unstuck here with the Kiwis being blown away by Afghanistan, followed by a defeat to the West Indies which led to their exit.

Namibia no-show: After their giant-killing acts at the last two tournaments, the south-west African nation were not able to repeat their heroics. This would have played a part in former Proteas all-rounder David Wiese calling time on his international career with his adopted nation after the tournament.

Sri Lanka: The Lankans are the other former T20 world champions who have fallen drastically from previous heights. Sri Lanka were hugely disappointing in this tournament as they went down in their three opening games. They were also bundled out for their lowest score ever of 77 against South Africa, prompting Angelo Mathews to claim they had let their country down.

The Nassau Park outfield: While the ICC must be commended for putting together an entire international stadium in less than 12 months, the pitch came in for plenty of criticism. However, it was the slow outfield that really made scoring difficult, with the ball ploughing into the sand on most of occasions.

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