T20,  USA Cricket,  World Cup

Super Eights: Marooned!

The Cinderella run of the USA Cricket team might have ended last night an hour or so short of actual midnight. After taking down Pakistan and putting some fear into both India and South Africa, the US ran up against a West Indies team that not only needed a win but needed a dominant win. And that's just what the men in maroon walked off the field with. The West Indies steamrolled the US's total of 128 inside of eleven overs. The victory evened the Windies' Super Eights record to 1-1 and keeps them alive in their hunt for a semi-finals berth. The loss sends the US to 0-2. Mathematically, they're still alive but it would take something just short of divine intervention in the remaining games for them to move on to the next round.

The West Indies won the toss and opted to field first in front of a home crowd in Barbados. Realistically, the US would have needed to put up something in the 160-170 area to make this a match, but the runs just didn't come fast enough or often enough. It wasn't until the final ball of the second over that Andries Gous, the offensive star of the match against South Africa, was able to drive an Andre Russell delivery for four. The US was able to slowly push the run rate up, but never into the eight or nine runs-per-over that they'd need to be competitive.

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Aaron Jones' prodigious blast off Alzarri Joseph in the 8th over was the highlight of the innings and briefly took them over the eight-runs-an-over pace. But it wasn't to last. Jones would be retired in the 10th over after scoring eleven runs from eleven balls, and the US wouldn't score more than eight runs an over until Ali Khan provided some powerful pyrotechnics in a 15-run, too-little-too-late 18th over. The US would be bowled out for 128 with one ball left in the final over.

The West Indies' Roston Chase, who has quietly recorded good numbers in limited use so far during the World Cup, had a night for himself, taking three wickets and also making a nifty grab in the field to send Steven Taylor packing.

Looking to overtake the US's meager output in as few balls as possible to boost their net run rate -- the stat that's used as a tiebreaker for teams with the same record at the end of a round -- the West Indies came out swinging. Shai Hope, who was opening in place of injured Brandon King, put on a masterclass in hitting. Hope -- one of Wisden's Players of the Year in 2018 -- slammed 82 off 39 balls with surgical precision. And with some help from Johnson Charles and Nicholas Pooran, the West Indies were able to wind things up in the 10th over, USA bowling having no real answer for the Windies' aggressive batting.

In the end, sadly, the US played the role that Namibia and Oman played for Australia and England in the group stage -- a team that can be beaten handily in order to bump up net run rate.

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The US will finish off the Super Eights round against England on Sunday. England lost a rollercoaster of a match against South Africa in the early game on Friday.  Chasing 163, they appeared completely out of it for half of their innings before regaining some of the form that had fueled the three-game win streak they rode into the match. At the end of the 11th over, England needed a daunting 101 runs from 54 balls, but by the end of the 17th over, they had clawed back to needing only 25 from the final 18 balls for the win. In one of the best finishes of the tournament, South Africa's death bowling combination Kagiso Rabada, Marco Jansen, and Anrich Nortje -- some of the fastest and tallest bowlers on the planet -- were able to slam the door on England's valiant comeback attempt.

The victory puts South Africa in the driver's seat with a 2-0 record. The loss puts England in a must-win-big situation going into the match with the US on Sunday. The US, playing for pride alone in their final match, hope to rebound from the West Indies loss and finish off the World Cup on a positive note.

Sunday's match from Barbados starts at 10:30 am EDT.

© CricAmerica.com/Steve Steinberg 2024

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