The one thing Australia’s four-run win over Afghanistan on Friday night did was simplify the equation.

The old enemy England have Australia’s T20 World Cup fate in their hands on Saturday night against Sri Lanka after the hosts failed to fix their net run rate deficit on Friday.

An England win will see the Poms into the semi-finals, a loss will catapult Australia into the knockout stages. Weather could be the only other aid to Australia’s hopes but rain isn’t predicted in Sydney on Saturday.

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It’s been the tale of this World Cup for Australia, who has had to chase its tail ever since the 89-run loss to New Zealand in the opening match of the tournament.

But cricket fans have been left baffled by a series of decisions considering a monster victory against Afghanistan could have opened another avenue to make it into the semi-finals.

Australia were well behind the run rate and needed at least a 50-run win to try to push its run rate ahead of England. The bigger the win, the better it would be for the host nation.

Already needing to cover the loss of Aaron Finch and Tim David through injury, Australia made a bold call by dropping talent left-armer Mitchell Starc.

It saw Cam Green, Steve Smith and Kane Richardson come into the team but none of those players had much of an impact.

Green scored three off two balls and had two overs for 0/13, Steve Smith scored 4 off 4 balls, and Richardson took 1/48 off his four overs.

After a red hot start at the top of the order from David Warner and Mitchell Marsh, it was left to Glenn Maxwell’s 54 not out off 32 balls to salvage Australia’s innings after losing regular wickets.

Although Maxwell entered the tournament under pressure, he’s hit double figures in every match, and it raised a question as to why he came in at No. 6 in the order.

CODE Sports’ Ben Jones wrote: “When it came to Maxwell’s deployment in tonight’s contest, there was questionable decision making on a wider level. In a match where a total of 200 was likely to be necessary, if not for the win but for that much discussed net run rate boost, then unleashing Glenn Maxwell early felt like an easy call.

“In the last non rain-affected game where Maxwell opened the batting he scored 151* (64). Given the injury to Finch, a more aggressive and creative solution would have been to replace one Victorian veteran with another, and promote Maxwell to the top.

“Even without that level of inventiveness, there was a chance to manage him better; sending Steve Smith in at No.4 during Maxwell’s ideal entry point even in a normal match felt like the move of a frazzled side, compounded by sending in the admittedly in-form Stoinis.

“Australia needed a miracle, had a miracle-worker in their side, but refused to give him the best chance to pull it off.”

Then with 168 runs on the board, Australia could have done with a proven wicket-taker in Starc.

Assistant coach Daniel Vettori said after the match the decision to leave the left-armer out of the team was a “tactical” decision to use Richardson at the death.

It backfired as Richardson was taken for 16 off his final over, the 18th of the innings, including two sixes from Rashid Khan.

“It was more about the effectiveness of Hazlewood and Cummins at the top, and their ability to take the new ball and be wicket-takers,” Vettori said.

“Therefore that pushed Starcy into a different role, and he came up against Kane Richardson and it was thought among the hierarchy that Kane was exceptional at the death, and so to use him there as opposed to Mitch.

“In his first over, he (Richardson) was incredibly unlucky.

“He could have had two wickets and then suddenly the whole game’s turned, and that first breakthrough (of Rahmanullah Gurbaz) was a big wicket for us because he played so well and had been so aggressive.

“So we reflect on that, and I think Richo himself would say that he probably missed at the back end of two overs.

“But apart from that, the majority of his spell was what we expected.”

Although hindsight is always 20/20, cricket fans were still in shock by the decision to leave Starc out of the match.

Former Australian batter Mark Waugh tweeted: “Starc should be playing. He is an aggressive wicket taking bowler who could easily rip through Afghanistan. Richardson more of a holding type bowler.”

Former Aussie captain Michael Clarke added in commentary: “He’s got to be injured.

“There’s absolutely no way you can leave him out … If anyone’s going to rip through Afghanistan’s batting, it’s Mitchell Starc.

“I don’t get it.”

Even Ashes villain Stuart Broad was baffled by the call.

“Just flicked on T20 World Cup. #AUSvsAFG. Why No Mitch Starc for Aus?” he said.

“Have we disagreed before? Please tell me Starc injured. He’s a beast in this format, wicket taker, game changer. Must win game? You want them.”

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