Shock the World,  USA Cricket,  World Cup

On to the Super Eights!

After shocking the cricketing world with a stunning win over Pakistan and a gutsy performance against India, anticlimactically, it was a rain-soaked outfield in Florida that would ultimately propel the USA Cricket team to the Super Eights round of the 2024 T20 World Cup (and an automatic berth in the 2026 World Cup).

The one point they picked up for the rainout against Ireland was enough to secure the second spot in their group standings and a trip to Antigua for the tournament's next round. Sure, it would have been a lot cooler if they'd clinched thanks to Ali Khan defending three runs in the final over or Aaron Jones slamming a last-ball six into the stands at Broward County Stadium, but with the Ft. Lauderdale area dealing with the aftermath of Biblical rain, there wasn't much anyone could have done.

The next round of matches ratchets things up and regroups them with some of the toughest teams in the world.

On Wednesday, the US will take on South Africa, who -- despite going 4-0 in group play -- showed they were vulnerable. After convincing wins over Sri Lanka and the Netherlands, they barely survived matches against Bangladesh and Nepal. Either of their last two games could have gone the other way.

Their second Super Eights match will be against the West Indies on Friday. The Windies are 3-0 in group play with one game left against Afghanistan, and the match in Barbados will definitely be a home game for them. But, like South Africa, they've shown weaknesses. They needed 19 overs to chase down Papua-New Guinea and needed some incredibly clutch batting to take down New Zealand. Their only convincing win of the tournament has been a beatdown over Uganda, the Cinderella team of the World Cup.

The US will wrap up second-round play against England on Sunday. England, all but written off after a rainout versus Scotland and a loss to Australia, put themselves back in a position to defend their World Cup title with resounding wins over Oman and Namibia. Even so, it still took a win from arch-enemy Australia over Scotland to let them advance to the Super Eights.

Two teams from this group of four will advance to the semi-finals. In theory, if the math worked their way, they could go 1-2 and still move on, but more likely, they'll need to knock off two of these juggernauts if they want this dream run to continue.

The World Cup has been an amazing few weeks for the USA Cricket team, but their success isn't quite as out-of-the-blue as cricket media would have you believe. The US swept Canada 4-0 in April and then went 2-1 versus full-member Bangladesh in May. When you add in their 2-1 record in World Cup matches, they've gone 8-2 against international competition in recent months. And it's far from over.

Buckle up for possibly the most important week in the history of USA cricket!

© Steinberg 2024

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