The highly-anticipated T20 World Cup final is under threat, with Melbourne predicted to be peppered by rain on Sunday evening.
Three T20 World Cup matches at the iconic MCG have already been abandoned due to weather, while Ireland clinched an unexpected victory over England after rain prematurely ended their Super 12 contest.
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Rain also denied host nation Australia the opportunity to face rivals England in a must-win fixture at the MCG, effectively knocking the defending champions out of the tournament.
And now the final is in jeopardy, with the Bureau of Meteorology predicting a 95 per cent chance of showers (8 to 20 mm) peppering the Victorian capital on Sunday.
More than 90,000 spectators are expected to walk through gates on Sunday, but that figure could drop considerably if weather intervenes.
Unlike the group stage fixtures, the T20 World Cup knock-out matches are allocated a reserve day, with the final’s backup slot scheduled for 3pm on Monday afternoon with an additional two hours allocated to get the match complete if there are rain interruptions.
But much to everyone’s frustration, the Monday forecast isn’t particularly promising either, with the Bureau predicting a 95 per cent chance of showers (5 to 10 mm).
“Every effort will be made to complete the match on the scheduled day,” the T20 World Cup playing conditions state.
“Only if the minimum number of overs necessary to constitute a match cannot be bowled on the scheduled day will the match be completed on the reserve day.”
If the final is washed out, the trophy will be shared between the two finalists.
According to The Age, T20 World Cup organisers will not shift the start time to favourable weather conditions due to the preferences of global broadcasters.
While group stage matches only required five overs in the second innings to constitute a result, at least 10 overs will need to be bowled in the run chase during the final.
Earlier this year, the Bureau confirmed that climate driver La Nina had once again returned for the 2022/23 summer, and its effects are already noticeable on the east coast with severe flooding in New South Wales and Victoria.
“Typically with La Nina, it leads to extra cloud cover and extra rainfall through eastern, northern and central Australia,” Sky News meteorologist Rob Sharpe told news.com.au last year.
“It also leads to generally near or below average temperatures in those regions.
“Particularly for the matches in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, there’s a higher chance than usual of rainfall, so a higher chance of games potentially being washed out.”
Andrew Watkins, the Bureau of Meteorology’s head of long-range forecasting, warned that La Nina would strike the east coast earlier than usual this summer, much to the frustration of T20 World Cup organisers.
“At the moment, this La Nina isn‘t looking particularly strong and it’s looking like it will peak probably fairly early in the summer or late in the spring,” Watkins told ABC last month.
“Which is a little bit unusual, a little bit different to the La Ninas that we‘ve been seeing in recent years.”
The rare climate phenomenon has occurred in Australia 16 times over the past 122 years.