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Confident US ready to give T20 Super Eight a real crack

Staff WritersAP
Two surprise wins have the US excited for the T20 World Cup's Super Eight stage. (AP PHOTO)
Camera IconTwo surprise wins have the US excited for the T20 World Cup's Super Eight stage. (AP PHOTO) Credit: AAP

The United States open the Super Eight stage against South Africa at cricket's Twenty20 World Cup on Wednesday with American captain Aaron Jones sounding more confident than ever.

A win over 2022 runners-up Pakistan in the group stage, helping to raise the profile of cricket in the US, might do that to a team skipper.

"To be honest with you, a lot of people don't really pay much attention to US cricket," said Jones.

"Probably the whole world don't already know how much talent we have here ... but definitely I think that on any given day, once we play proper cricket, we believe that we can beat any team in the world for sure."

The US qualified for the second round after wins over Canada and Pakistan, with favourites India also advancing from Group A.

The eight teams are divided into two groups with defending champions England and co-host West Indies the other teams bracketed with the US and South Africa. The other group has unbeaten Australia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and India — those teams either topped their groups or finished as runners-up in the original 20-team tournament.

South Africa won all four of their group games but the Americans can take heart from the fact that the Proteas' batters struggled in their last two low-scoring matches against weaker opponents Bangladesh — when they won by four runs, and Nepal, who they beat by one run.

Despite all the mystery surrounding low-scoring drop-in pitches in New York and the wet weather in Florida, the US sent shockwaves in the cricketing world with back-to-back wins against Canada and Pakistan in Dallas before losing to India on a tricky wicket in New York.

The rain gods also helped the US — the tournament co-hosts received a crucial one point from their rain-abandoned game against Ireland that knocked Pakistan out. It was the first time that Pakistan, the 2009 champions, had not qualified for the playoffs in eight versions of the tournament.

The other Super Eight match Wednesday has West Indies playing England at Gros Islet, Saint Lucia. On Thursday, Afghanistan play India at Bridgetown, Barbados and Australia take on Bangladesh at North Sound, Antigua to complete the first round of playoff matches.

All matches in the Super Eight round are being played in the West Indies, and later the semi-finals and final. The championship match in the month-long tournament is set for June 29 at the century-old Kensington Oval in Bridgetown.

Not many Americans knew they had a cricket team before Jones hit the headlines with a blistering 95 runs in the opening game against Canada that featured 10 sixes.

"Over the last couple of years, we've been speaking about playing in the World Cup, playing more games against the full-member nations and stuff like that," Jones said.

"Obviously qualifying for the Super Eights is really good ... not only for us but the fans around America as well. We really appreciate them, and for the younger generation in America."

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