USA shock cricket world and curious public with unexpected win over Pakistan in T20 World Cup – Sport

It will all be music to the ICC’s ears as American sports fans quickly became aware of their team’s achievement.

It was always going to take something big to make Americans pay any attention to cricket and Thursday’s stunning victory by the USA over established power Pakistan provided just that moment.

The thrilling Super Over triumph in Dallas by the T20 World Cup debutants over the 2022 finalists and 2009 winners was the biggest upset in the history of the competition.

But while the victory was heralded across the cricketing world, few but the hardcore fans of what is a very niche sport in the USA, witnessed it.

The tournament is being co-hosted by the USA with the game played in a converted minor-league baseball park in the Grand Prairie suburb of Dallas, Texas which holds just 7,000 spectators.

The game wasn’t even broadcast on American television but was instead only shown on the cricket-specialist Willow TV subscription channel and streaming service.

But online and in social media, American sports fans quickly became aware of their team’s achievement.

Jasdeep Singh of the United States celebrates dismissing Pakistan’s Captain Babar Azam during the ICC men’s T20 World Cup 2024 group A cricket match between the USA and Pakistan at the Grand Prairie Cricket Stadium in Grand Prairie, Texas, on June 6, 2024. — AFP

NPR public radio tried to put the win into context for those not familiar with the sport. “Team USA just beat Pakistan in Super Over, the baseball equivalent is extra innings,” they reported.

“Just to put this into an American sports context, Pakistan losing to the US is like the Boston Red Sox losing to the Durham Bulls,” they added, referring to the minor league baseball team from North Carolina.

Outside of the USA though there was no need for analogies.

The UK’s Times called it “one of the biggest upsets in cricket history” while Australia’s Daily Telegraph said the Americans had “stunned world cricket”.

It will all be music to the ears of the game’s governing body, the ICC, who chose the USA as co-host for this tournament, alongside the West Indies, to help efforts to popularise the T20 format in the USA.

Texas, Florida and New York are also holding games in the group stage before the Caribbean takes sole ownership of the later rounds.

Major League Cricket, which has begun to attract top international players and investment from Indian cricket sources.

Pakistan’s Fakhar Zaman slides to the crease during the ICC men’s Twenty20 World Cup 2024 group A cricket match between the USA and Pakistan at the Grand Prairie Cricket Stadium in Grand Prairie, Texas, on June 6, 2024. — AFP

The ICC have played down talk of ‘converting’ sceptical mainstream American sports fans as a goal for this tournament but the win is bound to raise their hopes.

“Now that’s the way to grow the game in the States,” tweeted former England captain Michael Vaughan after the match.

Joe Lynn, the curator of the United States Cricket Museum at Haverford College, near Philadelphia, said the wins were “the perfect start” for what he sees as a comeback for the game.

“Perhaps it’s always been a misnomer to say cricket died in the US at the hands of baseball, but I think its been in hibernation more than anything else.
With Major League Cricket and this World Cup it is a reawakening of sorts,” he told the BBC.

USA captain Monank Patel, whose crucial 50 from 38 balls earned him the man-of-the-match award, said he was sure the victory would be a game-changer for the sport.

“Of course, beating Pakistan in a World Cup is going to open many doors for us,” he said.

“Obviously hosting the World Cup in the USA and performing here as a team, it helps us to grow cricket in the USA […] and playing against Pakistan for the first time in the World Cup and beating them — it was an unbelievable performance from our side,” he said.


Header image: USA’s players celebrate after winning the game in a super over as Pakistan’s Shadab Khan (L) walks off during the ICC men’s Twenty20 World Cup 2024 group A cricket match between the USA and Pakistan at the Grand Prairie Cricket Stadium in Grand Prairie, Texas, on June 6, 2024. — AFP

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