We’re fast approaching the business end of the global tournament in the UAE and Oman, where the race for the semifinal spots is heating up.
* T20 World Cup: Under-pressure Australia try to walk tightrope to semifinals
* Black Caps forced to raise a sweat as Scotland prove World Cup stumbling block
* T20 World Cup: India thrash Afghanistan to keep slim semifinal hopes alive
Pre-tournament favourites India are on the brink of elimination after losing their opening two matches, while England and Pakistan have looked in formidable form, the latter already through to the final four.
Now that every team have played at least three matches, here’s where they sit in our unofficial rankings.
Having swept aside West Indies, Bangladesh and Australia in emphatic fashion, Eoin Morgan’s men already had one foot in the semifinals by the time they met Sri Lanka in Sharjah. The way they overcame adversity to prevail by 26 runs suggested they have what it takes to add the T20 crown to the ODI title they won three years ago.
Put into bat for the first time on a tricky low wicket, England were floundering at 47-3 at the halfway mark. Enter ‘Universe Jos’ Buttler, who calmly saw off the Sri Lankan spinners before hitting the seamers around the ground on his way to a sensational 101 not out.
England’s underrated bowling attack did the rest to maintain their unbeaten start and mark them out as clear favourites. It will take something very special to stop this English juggernaut.
The first team to book their spot in the semifinals following a comfortable 45-run win over Namibia, Pakistan have been mightily impressive in their four matches.
They produced the performance of the tournament in routing India by 10 wickets in their opener – the first time they had beaten their arch rivals in an ICC competition in 13 attempts – and backed it up with convincing wins over New Zealand and Afghanistan.
Openers Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan have been scoring runs for fun, while quick Haris Rauf and spinner Shadab Khan have shone with the ball. With a well-balanced, in-form team adept in these conditions, Pakistan might just go all the way.
It’s been a decidedly mixed bag from the Black Caps in their three Group 2 matches, with that near-perfect dismantling of much-fancied India sandwiched between an unconvincing display against Pakistan and a much-closer-than-expected victory over minnows Scotland.
But when Kane Williamson’s side get it right, they are very good indeed, as India discovered in Dubai when they were ruthlessly taken apart by a team with a clear gameplan executed to perfection.
With rank outsiders Namibia up next, New Zealand are likely to face a winner-takes-all showdown with Afghanistan in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. It will be a tricky test, but one that the Black Caps should come through to set up a likely semifinal with England.
The Proteas bounced back from a tight opening loss to Australia to reel off three straight victories and put themselves in semifinal contention. It’s been a hugely impressive turnaround, particularly after star man Quinton de Kock’s refusal to take the knee threatened to destroy their already fragile team harmony.
De Kock subsequently apologised for his bewildering stance and South Africa have looked a capable side since thanks to captain Temba Bavuma’s understated leadership, hammering the West Indies and Bangladesh and edging a nailbiter with Sri Lanka.
A win over England in their final fixture would almost certainly guarantee a spot in the last four, though net run rate may yet come into play in a tight group.
Will the real Australia please stand up? At their best, Justin Langer’s men are a match for anyone, swatting aside Sri Lanka with ease thanks to a blazing opening partnership between David Warner and skipper Aaron Finch.
But more often than not, they flatter to deceive. They sneaked past South Africa in their opener chasing a tiny total and were flogged by England by eight wickets in a brutal reality check to their title hopes.
On paper, Australia have one of the most talented squads at the tournament, yet they often look like a team in search of an identity. Still, they ought to overcome the West Indies and Bangladesh to make the semifinals – though you wouldn’t be your house on it.
Despite suffering a second Super 12 loss to India, Afghanistan remain in the hunt for an unlikely semifinal berth.
It was their performance against a brilliant Pakistan side – losing in the penultimate over – that showed they’re not content to just make up the numbers. If they can replicate that showing against the Black Caps, there could be some nervy moments ahead for Kiwi cricket fans.
Captain Virat Kohli admitted as much, saying his side weren’t “brave enough with the bat or ball” against the Black Caps as they dawdled their way to a lacklustre 110-7 that was chased down with ease.
Kohli will have been pleased with the response against Afghanistan, as openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul finally fired to help India post the biggest total of the tournament so far. But it’s almost certainly too late for this star-studded Indian side to salvage their campaign and avoid an ignominious exit.
The defending champions are still alive – but only just. After two one-sided defeats to England and South Africa, the West Indies showed plenty of grit and determination to pip Bangladesh in a last over thriller.
But reaching the semifinals remains a tall order, particularly with their dismal net run rate after being bundled out for 55 by England.
Gun batter Chris Gayle looks a shadow of his former self at 42 and the lack of firepower in this Windies team has been apparent. Nothing less than two victories over Sri Lanka and Australia will do if they are to progress – and even that’s unlikely to be enough.
Already eliminated, 2014 champions Sri Lanka must be wondering how they’ve only managed a solitary win from their four Super 12 games.
Spinners Wanindu Hasaranga and Maheesh Theekshana have been outstanding, with the former the leading wicket taker at the tournament with 14, including a hat-trick against the Proteas. But ultimately their seamers weren’t up to the task and that’s why they will be heading home early.
With two points from their three games having beaten fellow newcomers Scotland, Namibia are remarkably still in the playoff mix – mathematically at least.
However, the chances of the African upstarts gatecrashing the semifinals are slim to say the least following successive defeats to Afghanistan and Pakistan. They would need to beat the Black Caps and India by a huge margin and rely on other results.
Nevertheless, coach Pierre De Bruyn and his team can hold their heads high after a valiant campaign in which they have proved no easybeats, pushing Pakistan hard with some fearless hitting.
Having humbled Bangladesh in the qualifiers, the Scots entered the Super 12 stage full of confidence. But their shortcomings were cruelly exposed by Afghanistan, skittled for just 60 in an embarrassing 130-run loss in Sharjah.
A comprehensive four-wicket defeat to Namibia in Abu Dhabi followed, the Scottish batters again misfiring as they stumbled their way to a modest 109-8, losing three wickets in four balls.
Some pride was restored in their gutsy 16-run loss to the Black Caps, in which Michael Leask plundered 42 from 20 balls. Though with India and Pakistan still to play, Scotland are likely to exit the tournament without any points on the board.
The toothless Tigers barely put up a fight against South Africa as they slumped to a fourth successive defeat to end their interest in the competition. Bundled out for a paltry 84 runs, it was a limp effort from a injury-hit team missing star allrounder Shakib Al Hasan.
While they may be out of playoff contention, the Tigers can still have a big say on who emerges from Group 1 should they upset Australia in Dubai on Thursday (NZT).