Rain delays England’s must-win T20 World Cup game against Namibia

England’s Jonathan Bairstow hits a four while Namibia’s Zane Green (L) watches during the ICC men’s Twenty20 World Cup 2024 group B cricket match between Namibia and England at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua and Barbuda on June 15, 2024. AFP

Defending champions England faced an anxious wait after several heavy downpours delayed the start of their must-win T20 World Cup match against Namibia in Antigua on Saturday.

Anything other than a victory would see Jos Buttler’s men knocked out, with Scotland joining already-qualified Australia in the second-round Super Eights before the two countries meet later Saturday in St Lucia.

England are currently two points behind Scotland in Group B but with a superior net run-rate that will be the tie-breaker if both teams finish level on points.

Title-holders England inflicted an eight-wicket thrashing of Oman on Thursday as they chased down a target of 48 in just 19 balls — the largest win in T20 World Cup history in terms of balls remaining.

But the game with Namibia is England’s last in a Group B where their opening match against Scotland ended in a washout before they suffered a convincing 36-run loss to Australia.

And with rain repeatedly lashing the Vivian Richards Stadium on Saturday as a scheduled 3:00 pm local (1700 GMT) start time came and went, England are now in danger of suffering a washout that would see them join fellow Test nations New Zealand, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in suffering an embarrassing first-round exit.

Even if England beat Namibia, they could still be knocked out should Scotland achieve a stunning upset win over Australia or if that game ends in a no-result.

Australia quick Josh Hazlewood caused a stir when he refused to rule out manipulating the run-rate system if it helped the Scots make the Super Eights rather than England.

But bad weather could make such talk irrelevant, with England facing the prospect of another early departure following a woeful defence of their 50-over World Cup title in India last year where they lost six out of nine games and failed to reached the knockout stages.

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