Zimbabwe's Luke Jongwe (R) reacts during the fourth Twenty20 international cricket match between Bangladesh and Zimbabwe at the at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka on May 10, 2024.

USA and Scotland's impressive run in the 2024 T20 World Cup could result in Zimbabwe missing out on yet another direct qualification to the next edition of the event.

Out of 108 ICC members, 20 will qualify for the next T20 World Cup, jointly hosted by India and Sri Lanka. While 12 teams will be handed tickets to the sub-continent, eight slots will be filled with sub-regional qualifiers leading to the regional finals. 

The teams playing the Super Eights this year will go through along with the two hosts, with the remaining spots filled by the top teams in the ICC T20I rankings on the day of the T20 World Cup final on June 29 not to qualify by some other route.

Zimbabwe, a Full Member, have missed out on several World Cups over the years, including the current event after Uganda's shock qualification

With associates like the USA and Scotland pulling off surprises in the ongoing competition, Zimbabwe's familiar problem has again resurfaced. Here are possible scenarios that may harm their chances.

How has USA's rise hurt Zimbabwe's chances?

South Africa, India, USA, Australia, West Indies and Afghanistan have already qualified for the Super Eights, and therefore locked in their place for 2026. One of Scotland or England, and one of Bangladesh or Netherlands will join them.

It's the USA's progression that spells bad news for Zimbabwe. That spot that would have otherwise gone to the 12th-ranked team which is, currently, Scotland. However, Scotland are only a fraction of a ranking point ahead of Zimbabwe, meaning that if Scotland lose to Australia and fail to make the Super Eights, they are likely to drop below the African side in the table. So had none of USA, Scotland or Netherlands qualified, Zimbabwe would have secured an automatic qualification spot. That is no longer possible.

Given Ireland’s washout against the USA and that they will play their last fixture against Pakistan, their 11th position will likely remain intact till the cut-off date on rankings, granting them possible direct qualification. 

However, Scotland or Netherlands can qualify instead of Ireland for the 2026 edition via the Super Eights route.  A washout against England, followed by a win against Nambia with nine balls left and Oman with 41 balls to spare, placed them in an ideal position. Though difficult, a win against Australia will do it for them. 

Netherlands need to beat Sri Lanka, hope for a Nepal victory over Bangladesh, and then rely on net run rate. If both they and Scotland make the Super Eights, that would send Ireland and Bangladesh, currently  into regional qualifying. 

The current ICC men's T20I team rankings, as of June 15

Team Rating
India 265
Australia 259
West Indies 254
England 254
South Africa 247
New Zealand 247
Pakistan 241
Sri Lanka 230
Bangladesh 226
Afghanistan 220
Ireland 195
Scotland 192
Zimbabwe 192
Namibia 189
Netherlands 185

Subscribe to the Wisden Cricket YouTube channel for post-match analysis, player interviews, and much more.