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T20 World Cup: Debutants USA scripts history, enters Super 8 of T20 WC at Pakistan''s expense

USA ended group league campaign with five points from four games

T20 World Cup: Debutants USA scripts history, enters Super 8 of T20 WC at Pakistans expense

USA players celebrating after a wicket (PTI)

LAUDERHILL: Partly made up of men moonlighting as cricketers when not doing their primary jobs, the USA team cleared the group stage of T20 World Cup in its very first attempt after its match against Ireland was called off here on Friday, knocking out former champions Pakistan from the tournament.

Thanks to their wins over neighbours Canada and heavyweights Pakistan in their first two outings, the USA joined India in the Super Eight stage of the T20 showpiece after their final group match was washed out.

The washout meant heavyweights Pakistan bowed out of the tournament which they won way back in 2009, even as the USA fuelled the game's growth in the land of opportunities by advancing to the next stage.

USA ended group league campaign with five points from four games and Pakistan even if they win their last match against Ireland can maximum reach four points.

Pakistan went down to India in New York on Sunday in a close game, failing to chase a target of 120. Before that, in their opening game in Dallas, they suffered a shock Super Over loss to USA.

The back-to-back defeats meant Pakistan's chances of advancing to the Super Eight were already out of their own hands. It is yet another global tournament where the unpredictable Pakistanis again left it too late.

As part of the ICC's ambitious plan to promote the sport in this part of the world, the US is co-hosting the tournament along with the West Indies, and if their performance so far in the event is any indication, the home team is making a sincere attempt at getting the NFL, MLB and NBA-loving Americans to consider watching cricket in near future.

The USA began the tournament with a convincing win over Canada chasing nearly 200 runs, shocked Pakistan in one of T20 World Cup's greatest upsets, and then gave formidable title contenders India a run for their money, but the starting point of the team's upsurge in the game was the morale-boosting T20I series victory over Bangladesh just prior to the showpiece.

The US team comprises eight cricketers of Indian descent, most of them on temporary H1-B visas that allow companies to hire overseas employees, who are trying to revive the sport 180 years after the country hosted the first-ever international cricket match, between USA and Canada at the St George's Cricket Club in New York way back in 1844, 33 years before England and Australia played in their first Test match.

The chances of Friday's match taking place were always bleak as the state of Florida, where Lauderhill is situated, had been hit by a tropical thunderstorm, leading to incessant rain and flash flooding.

But, even if the match had taken place, the USA, buoyed by the two big wins and their spirited effort against India, would have certainly backed themselves to overcome Ireland and progress to the Super Eights.

USA, thus, also qualified for the 2026 T20 World Cup to be co-hosted by India and Sri Lanka. The top eight teams from here plus the two hosts and top-two ranked teams outside of this on the day of the T20 World Cup final will directly qualify for the next T20 showpiece.

In fact, there is a threat that the entire Florida leg of T20 World Cup, to be held at the Central Broward Park here, might be washed out because of the adverse weather conditions, forcing the local authorities to issue a state of emergency.

Just two days ago, the match between Nepal and Sri Lanka here was washed out before toss could take place.

USA's qualification did shatter Pakistan's hopes but they only have themselves to blame after losing their first two fixtures against the Americans and arch-rivals India in New York.

The Babar Azam-led side needed to win their remaining two games big and defeated Canada by seven wickets, with Ireland waiting in the wings but that match in Gros Islet, Saint Lucia now has become inconsequential.

It also turned out to be a disappointing start for South African Gary Kirsten as Pakistan coach.

Kirsten, who coached India to the 2011 ODI World Cup triumph, took over the reigns of Pakistan just before the T20 World Cup, and will have some tough calls to take as the Man in Green hit a new low in their rich cricketing history.

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