T20 World Cup: How England can reach the semi-finals and where they need to improve ahead of USA match | Cricket News

As England prepare to face USA in their final Super 8s match at the T20 World Cup on Sunday, live on Sky Sports Cricket, we look at what they need to reach the semi-finals.

Plus we assess what is working for the defending champions in the tournament and which parts of their game they need to tidy up…

How can England make the semi-finals?

The simplest way is for England to defeat USA in Barbados on Sunday (from 3.30pm) and then for table toppers South Africa to knock off West Indies in Antigua on Monday. In that scenario, South Africa (six points) and England (four points) will advance, with West Indies (two points) and USA (zero points) going out.

T20 World Cup Super 8s Group 2 (ahead of final fixtures)
How Super 8s Group 2 looks ahead of the final round of fixtures

If England and West Indies both win their final matches and end up level with South Africa on four points, the two qualification spots from Super 8s Group 2 will come down to our old friend net run-rate.

West Indies’ is the best of the three sides at the moment so a win over South Africa by any margin will take the host nation through and leave the second spot to whichever of England and South Africa has the superior net-run rate.

England could still progress if they lose to USA, although they would then need West Indies to lose heavily to South Africa in order to end up above the Caribbean side on net run-rate.

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Highlights of England’s eight-wicket win over West Indies as Phil Salt top-scored with 87 not out from 47 balls

If USA give England an absolute hiding, they could also make the semis on net run-rate, but they would also require South Africa to thump West Indies so their prospects do seem rather bleak.

For England, the goal is to win and win well.

What is working for England?

The trump cards, as Sky Sports’ Nasser Hussain called them, in leg-spinner Adil Rashid and fast bowler Jofra Archer.

Rashid bagged 1-21 from four overs in the eight-wicket win over West Indies and then 1-20 in the seven-run loss to South Africa, with his seven wickets in the tournament coming at an economy rate of 7.40.

England's Jofra Archer and Jonny Bairstow (Associated Press)
England’s Jofra Archer is a ‘trump card’ according to Nasser Hussain

Rashid’s two-run 17th over against West Indies was crucial in England winning that game – as was the four-run over from Archer that preceded it with the paceman dismissing set batter Nicolas Pooran in that time.

Archer is England’s leading wicket-taker with nine strikes at an economy rate of 7.29. He received some tap against South Africa with his first over crunched for 21, but he then shipped only 19 runs across his next three.

His ability to ruffle batters with speed and also fox them with slower balls is a vital part of England’s armoury.

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England and South Africa put on a show in the field during their Super 8s clash in St Lucia

We should also give a shout-out to England’s fielding, which was stunning against South Africa. Buttler led by example with a spectacular one-handed catch and direct hit run-out, but there were also excellent diving grabs from Harry Brook and Sam Curran.

Elsewhere, one positive after the negative of England’s top order folding against the Proteas was that Brook (53 off 37) and Liam Livingstone (33 off 17) were afforded a decent hit, spanking 78 from 42 balls in partnership from 61-4 in a chase of 164 and threatening to pull off a heist before the South Africa’s death bowlers shone.

With Brook having also smashed 47 against Namibia in the final first-round match, neither he nor Livingstone – so often a peripheral figure with the bat owing to his lower middle-order position – will come in cold should they be needed against USA and, England will hope, in the knockout stages.

England's Harry Brook (Getty Images)
Harry Brook top-scored with 53 from 37 balls in England’s defeat to South Africa

What needs to improve?

As entertaining and useful as it may have been, the cavalier stand between Brook and Livingstone cannot mask some of the issues – however mild – higher up the order.

Yes, Phil Salt fired against West Indies with 87 off 47 balls, including 30 runs in one over, but his other knocks have only been fleeting cameos, while opening partner Buttler is still to truly ignite and is yet to pass fifty.

Buttler, arguably the best white-ball batter on the planet when in full flow, said his side lost to South Africa due to the powerplays, with the Proteas, chiefly through Quinton de Kock, pummelling 63-0 and England just 41-1.

The skipper will want more oomph early on against USA, whether setting a score or chasing, while England’s bowling in the first six overs is also an area that needs a lift.

Jos Buttler, T20 World Cup (Getty Images)
Will England skipper Jos Buttler play an innings of note against USA on Sunday?

Discounting the Oman game, in which England reduced the associate nation to 25-4 in the powerplay, they have taken just two wickets in the first six overs across their five other fixtures – both of those against Australia but only after they had been creamed for 70 runs inside the first five.

They should have had a powerplay wicket against Scotland but Mark Wood was penalised for a no-ball after George Munsey ballooned to Buttler.

Wood’s form more generally may be a concern for England as around his sizzling 3-12 against Oman he has been smashed around the park by Australia, West Indies and South Africa, going at in excess of 10 runs an over in each of those matches.

England's Mark Wood (Associated Press)
England need to beat USA in the T20 World Cup on Sunday, so will they replace Mark Wood after some expensive outings?

Perhaps Chris Jordan will be eyeing a recall in his native Barbados on Sunday, although Tom Hartley is an option if England want more frontline spin, while they could always bring back big hitter and part-time spinner Will Jacks, who has recently lost his place to left-arm seamer Curran.

Watch England vs USA in the T20 World Cup Super 8s live on Sky Sports Cricket from 3pm on Sunday (3.30pm first ball).

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