Kass Naidoo

Early T20 exit for Australia?

2007-09-14 08:38

Kass Naidoo

As crazy as it sounds, it could happen this afternoon: World champions Australia could exit the Twenty20 World Championship without making it through the group stage if they lose to England in their final group match at Newlands, starting at 14:00 (weather permitting, as always).

Even if they win, Ricky Ponting's men will need a good run rate to sneak into the next stage, given their loss to Zimbabwe, who have risen in the footsteps Cricket World Cup dragon-slayers Bangladesh and Ireland. How did it get to this?

After the loss, one assumes an embarrassed Ricky Ponting was referring to T20 when he swallowed a bitter pill, saying "When you don't respect this game, it gets up and bites you." This after reportedly being among early critics of the game's new format.

Prior to the start of Twenty20, players speculated that the tournament would be wide open because of the short nature of the game, but I doubt many expected it to go from 'Hit and Giggle' to serious business in a matter of just three days.

What about the West Indies?

Their flight to South Africa lasted longer than their tournament appearance, after being dumped out of the competition by a reinvigorated Bangladesh side; a side ever ready to dash accusations of being a one-hit wonder outfit.

After the Shoaib Akhtar incident, Pakistan have managed to keep a low profile and make a winning start to the tournament, beating Scotland in their first game. Their big test comes tonight (Friday) when they face subcontinent rivals India in a mouthwatering encounter in Durban.

New Zealand had an easy win over Kenya, but will find the going a lot tougher when they take on Sri Lanka at the Wanderers on Saturday afternoon.

The group stages of the world's first Twenty20 tournament fittingly finishes with the Bangladesh v South Africa clash on Saturday evening in Cape Town.

Both sides have already qualified for the next stage courtesy of Bangladesh's win over West Indies on Wednesday, but after the Tigers embarrassed South Africa at the World Cup in the Caribbean, expect some fireworks from the hosts.

The opening match in Johannesburg last Tuesday was a spectacular occasion and the Proteas marked the commencement of the tournament with an emphatic win over their bogey-side, the West Indies, despite a destructive century by Chris Gayle.

As with most international events, crowds at the smaller matches have been disappointing, and perhaps more should be done to fill the stadiums.

But one thing is for sure, judging by the opening celebration and the first match, South Africa sure knows how to throw a Twenty20 party!

  • Kass Naidoo is editor of gsport... for Girls!

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