The crowd attendances at Australia’s T20 World Cup games have come under scrutiny as the tournament hosts appear poised to fall short of the semi-finals.

Australia needed a far bigger victory than its four-run win over Afghanistan on Friday if it was to have any hope of improving its poor net run rate.

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After its opening loss to New Zealand, progressing to the knockout stage was always going to require a minor miracle and now Australia’s only hope is if Sri Lanka beats England on Saturday night.

Aside from Marcus Stoinis’ rapid-fire half-century against Sri Lanka, Australia’s performances on the pitch have been largely underwhelming.

Now discussion has shifted to why crowd numbers have been so down for Australia — the defending T20 World Cup winners and tournament hosts.

Crowds at Australia’s Super 12 stage matches have struggled to half-fill a stadium’s capacity.

A crowd of 34,756 attended Australia’s opening match against New Zealand at the SCG (capacity 48,000).

For the game against Sri Lanka, 25,061 turned up to Perth Stadium (capacity 60,000).

The weather was horrific in Melbourne for the washed out game against England at the MCG (capacity 100,000), so the crowd of 37,566 can be excused.

Crowd figures haven’t been released for Australia’s clash with Ireland at the Gabba in Brisbane.

But perhaps the most disappointing number was the crowd of 18,672 at that watched Australia’s must-win game against Afghanistan at the Adelaide Oval (53,000 capacity).

The Adelaide Oval was less than half full and many of the fans were supporting Afghanistan, which is unsurprising given Rashid Khan plays for the Adelaide Strikers in the Big Bash.

“I’ve been surprised by the lack of crowd support at Australian games throughout the tournament,” commentator Mark Howard said on Triple M.

“A Friday night going into the weekend, good time for it to start, Australia needing to win to keep their tournament alive.

“In its heyday, the (Adelaide) Strikers were pulling 35,000 in January.

“It is early in the summer for cricket. The Indian games have been extraordinary.”

Former Australian wicketkeeper Brad Haddin said he has been surprised with the smaller-than-expected crowd numbers for Australia’s T20 World Cup games.

“I’ve been a bit shocked with crowd support as well,” Haddin said.

“We’ve had that one unbelievable game India vs Pakistan, which was an event and something we’ll never forget. Perth’s been pretty disappointing with their crowds over there.

“A lot of people are tuning in, they’ve been interested in Australia’s progress and the way they’ve been playing. A lot of talk about South Africa, can they make the semi-finals?

“There’s been a lot of appetite away from the grounds about the World Cup but it is at a different time of the year — sort of in that winter-summer period.

“We’re used to these big events right at the back of summer when we have an appetite for cricket.”

There’s a case to be made that Australia’s World Cup campaign was over after the 89-run loss to New Zealand and the thrashing might have turned away casual fans.

It’s also likely Test cricket remains the favourite of the three formats among Australian cricket fans and only Test matches in December or January can still draw strong crowds.

However, the T20 World Cup has seen mammoth crowds attend matches featuring teams from the subcontinent.

India’s last-gasp win over Pakistan at the MCG attracted 90,000 fans and an electric atmosphere.

India remains one of the tournament favourites and a similarly electric crowd is expected for its final group stage game against Zimbabwe at the MCG on Sunday.

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