If there is one thing the group 1 stage of this T20 World Cup has driven home, it is that there are no longer any ‘minnows’ at the event. The stage started with former champions Sri Lanka being thrashed by Namibia and ended with Ireland dumping the West Indies, the only team to have won the Cup twice, out of the competition.
But it isn’t just anecdotal evidence that suggests a narrowing of the gap between the so-called ‘minnows’ (a group in which most people include Test playing nations Zimbabwe and Ireland) and the ‘biggies’. A comparative look at the combined results of matches involving one of the minnows and a biggy in the last edition in 2021 and the current one bears out this gut feel.
There were six games involving one of the big teams (Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in 2021 and West Indies and Sri Lanka this time) against one of the others in the group 1 stage in both 2021 and 2022. If we treat the two big teams as one entity and the rest as the other entity, the net run rate between the two was +2. 75 for the biggies.
That’s collapsed to just +0. 05 in 2022, which is as close to even as you can get.

The average margin of victory across the six matches has also come down drastically. In 2021, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh won three of the six games batting first and Bangladesh lost out narrowly to Scotland while chasing. The average margin in favour of the biggies (counting the six-run deficit as a negative margin) was 43.5 runs. Two games were won by the big two while chasing with 58 balls or nearly ten overs to spare on average.
Switch to 2022 and five of the six games were won by the team batting first, two of them by the minnows (Scotland vs West Indies and Namibia vs Sri Lanka) and the rest by the big two.
The average margin in favour of the biggy across these five games (again counting a deficit as a negative margin) was just 5.8 runs.

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The lone game won by the side chasing saw Ireland win with 15 balls to spare.
India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and South Africa might be celebrating the fact that they will have neither West Indies nor Sri Lanka in their group, but they would do well to jettison any notions that it makes things easier for them.

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By Dipak

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