Australia sink brave Scots, England advance at T20 World Cup

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AFP

Saint Lucia, June 17: Australia saw off a determined challenge from Scotland to claim a five-wicket victory in a decisive final Group B match of the T20 World Cup for both teams at the Daren Sammy Stadium in St Lucia on Saturday.

Replying to the Scots' 180 for five, their highest total in a T20 World Cup match, half-centuries from Travis Head (68 off 49 balls, five fours, four sixes) and Marcus Stoinis (59 off 29 

balls, nine fours, two sixes) paced them to the target and a 100 percent winning record in the group with two balls to spare.

Tim David's unbeaten 24 off 14 balls finished the job to lift Australia to 186 for five. But he required a generous slice of luck when dropped at deep midwicket before finishing off the match with a huge six in the same direction off the next ball from seamer Brad Wheal.

That result also eliminated Scotland and allowed title-holders England, winners earlier in the day over Namibia in a rain-affected match in Antigua, to qualify for the Super Eights phase of the competition alongside their arch-rivals by virtue of a better net run-rate than the Scots.

"The plan was the usual: get yourself in, play shots along the ground and then take it from there," said 'Man of the Match' Stoinis in explaining the strategy through his innings and the 80-run fourth-wicket partnership with Head.

"I was just trying to keep him there, keep him batting and it turned the game, even though he got out in the end."

'Staying consistent'

Earlier, Brandon McMullen led the Scottish effort with a topscore of 60 off 34 balls (two fours, six sixes) after they were put in.

His ultra-aggression, and support from opener George Munsey (35) in an 89-run second-wicket partnership, pushed the scoring rate up to ten runs per over. However Australia were able to regain a measure of containment when McMullen fell to leg-spinner Adam Zampa in the 12th over.

Despite a battling unbeaten 42 from skipper Richie Berrington, only 69 runs came off the last 52 balls of the innings when Scotland would have been looking to put up a total in excess of 200.

England stays alive

Reigning champions England maintained their bid to defense the T20 World Cup title with a 41-run victory in a must-win group game against Namibia in Antigua on Saturday.

Anything other than an England win would have seen Jos Buttler's men knocked out and they were left fearing an early exit when rain delayed the scheduled start by three hours.

England, in a match eventually reduced from 11 to 10 overs per side by a fresh shower, collapsed to 13-2 after losing the toss.

But a stand of 56 between the Yorkshire duo of Harry Brook (47 not out off 20 balls) and Jonny Bairstow (31) helped take them to a total of 122-5.

Namibia were left with a target of 126 under the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method for rain-interrupted matches.

But they were never up with the required run-rate against England's new-ball duo of Reece Topley (0-6 in two overs) and Jofra Archer (1-15), with the non-Test nation finishing on 84-3.

Victory took England level on points with Scotland in Group B but with a superior net run-rate. England, however, could have missed out on the Super Eights had Scotland achieve a stunning upset win over already-qualified Australia in the Group B finale in St Lucia, or if that game ends in a no-result.

India washout

The India-Canada game in Florida was abandoned without a ball bowled. The outfield in Broward County Stadium was too wet for play, and the match was called off only an hour after its scheduled morning start.

While there was light rain on Saturday morning, the outfield was damp from Friday showers which led to a second straight abandoned game at the venue. The United States-Ireland game on Friday never started. Pakistan and Ireland are scheduled to play at the ground on Sunday.

Unbeaten India had already qualified for the Super Eight as the Group A winner. India starts the Super Eight against Afghanistan on Thursday in Barbados.

The United States cricket team of Friday reached the second round in its Twenty20 World Cup debut after its last group game against Ireland was washed out on Friday. Rain meant the match at Broward County Stadium was abandoned without a ball bowled, advancing the Americans to the Super Eight stage and automatically qualifying them for the 2026 Twenty20 World Cup in India and Sri Lanka.

Canada finished group play with only a precious win over Ireland.

While the Americans progressed alongside unbeaten India from Group A, former champion Pakistan and winless Ireland were eliminated from Super Eight contention.

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