March 4, 2020 / 2:40 AM / 3 months ago

Cricket-Sydney rain threatens Australia's T20 World Cup defence

SYDNEY, March 4 (Reuters) - Australia’s hopes of retaining the Women’s Twenty20 World Cup in a blockbuster final on Sunday could fall foul of the Sydney weather, with heavy rain threatening to wash out Thursday’s semi-finals.

A shock loss to India in their tournament opener means Australia finished second in Group A, so would be knocked out by Group B winners South Africa if their semi-final clash at Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) was not completed.

Unbeaten India take on England in the first of Thursday’s semi-finals at the SCG and would progress to Sunday’s final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) if a minumum of 10 overs a side were not possible because of the weather.

Cricket Australia (CA) had spoken with the International Cricket Council about the possibility of moving the matches to a reserve day, but had been told it was not possible under tournament rules, CA chief Kevin Roberts said.

“It’s not part of the playing conditions and we respect that,” Roberts told Melbourne’s SEN radio on Wednesday.

“It gives you cause to reflect and think about how you might improve things in the future but going into a tournament with a given set of playing conditions and rules, I don’t think it’s time to tinker ... as much as with an Australian hat I might love that.”

Stormy weather is forecast by the Bureau of Meteorology throughout Thursday at the SCG, with the chance of rain in the evening when Australia are scheduled to take on the South Africans ranging from 50% to 70%.

Cricket Australia defied a similarly dismal forecast to complete a 12-overs a side match in the final of the men’s Big Bash League at the SCG last month, however.

“We’re optimistic based on the drainage at the SCG combined with a weather forecast that is not perfect but not terrible either,” Roberts added.

“We’re really hopeful and planning for different scenarios tomorrow night but the important thing is getting our team ready to play a 10-over match, a 12-over match, an 18-over match or whatever it happens to be if it’s not a full 20-over contest.”

The loss to the tournament of the four-times champions and hosts would be a major blow to hopes that Sunday’s final will attract a crowd in excess of 90,000 to the MCG. (Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; editing by Richard Pullin)

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