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Pakistan finally gets first win at T20 World Cup. Australia trounces Namibia by 9 wickets

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Pakistan finally gets first win at T20 World Cup. Australia trounces Namibia by 9 wickets
News

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Pakistan finally gets first win at T20 World Cup. Australia trounces Namibia by 9 wickets

2024-06-12 12:14 Last Updated At:12:20

WESTBURY, N.Y. (AP) — Four. Six. Four. With three big heaves of the bat on consecutive balls, Mitch Marsh finished off a nine-wicket rout of Namibia on Tuesday that secured Australia's place in the playoff stage of cricket's Twenty20 World Cup.

On a day that started with 2022 runner-up Pakistan beating Canada by seven wickets to maintain its slim hopes of progressing and finished with Australia's emphatic win, Sri Lanka's chances faded following a washout against Nepal.

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Australia's Adam Zampa tosses a ball while bowling against Namibia during an ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua and Barbuda, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

WESTBURY, N.Y. (AP) — Four. Six. Four. With three big heaves of the bat on consecutive balls, Mitch Marsh finished off a nine-wicket rout of Namibia on Tuesday that secured Australia's place in the playoff stage of cricket's Twenty20 World Cup.

Australia's captain Mitchell Marsh plays a shot against Namibia during an ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua and Barbuda, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

Australia's captain Mitchell Marsh plays a shot against Namibia during an ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua and Barbuda, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

Nepal supporters react ahead of the men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Sri Lanka and Nepal at Central Broward Regional Park Stadium, Lauderhill, Florida, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. The match was abandoned due to rain. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Nepal supporters react ahead of the men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Sri Lanka and Nepal at Central Broward Regional Park Stadium, Lauderhill, Florida, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. The match was abandoned due to rain. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Australia's Josh Hazlewood, right, celebrates with teammates after taking the catch of Namibia's David Wiese during an ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua and Barbuda, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

Australia's Josh Hazlewood, right, celebrates with teammates after taking the catch of Namibia's David Wiese during an ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua and Barbuda, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

Nepal supporters react ahead of the men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Sri Lanka and Nepal at Central Broward Regional Park Stadium, Lauderhill, Florida, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Nepal supporters react ahead of the men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Sri Lanka and Nepal at Central Broward Regional Park Stadium, Lauderhill, Florida, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

A groundsman sweeps water from the covers as rain delays the start of the men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Sri Lanka and Nepal at Central Broward Regional Park Stadium, Lauderhill, Florida, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

A groundsman sweeps water from the covers as rain delays the start of the men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Sri Lanka and Nepal at Central Broward Regional Park Stadium, Lauderhill, Florida, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Australia's wicket keeper Matthew Wade, second from right, celebrates the wicket of Namibia's Zane Green, center left, who was trapped LBW, during an ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua and Barbuda, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

Australia's wicket keeper Matthew Wade, second from right, celebrates the wicket of Namibia's Zane Green, center left, who was trapped LBW, during an ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua and Barbuda, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

Groundsmen sweep water from the covers as rain delays the start of the men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Sri Lanka and Nepal at Central Broward Regional Park Stadium, Lauderhill, Florida, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. The match was abandoned due to rain. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Groundsmen sweep water from the covers as rain delays the start of the men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Sri Lanka and Nepal at Central Broward Regional Park Stadium, Lauderhill, Florida, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. The match was abandoned due to rain. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Australia's Travis Head bats against Namibia during an ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua and Barbuda, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

Australia's Travis Head bats against Namibia during an ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua and Barbuda, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

Pakistan's captain Babar Azam, left, and Mohammad Rizwan run between the wickets to score during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Pakistan's captain Babar Azam, left, and Mohammad Rizwan run between the wickets to score during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Pakistan's captain Babar Azam plays a shot during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Pakistan's captain Babar Azam plays a shot during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Pakistan's Mohammad Rizwan plays a shot during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Pakistan's Mohammad Rizwan plays a shot during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Canada's Dilon Heyliger, left, celebrates the dismissal of Pakistan's Saim Ayub, right, during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Canada's Dilon Heyliger, left, celebrates the dismissal of Pakistan's Saim Ayub, right, during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Pakistan's Mohammad Amir reacts after bowling a delivery during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Pakistan's Mohammad Amir reacts after bowling a delivery during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Canada's captain Saad Bin Zafar, right, runs past Pakistan's Haris Rauf after playing a shot during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Canada's captain Saad Bin Zafar, right, runs past Pakistan's Haris Rauf after playing a shot during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Pakistan supporters display placards as they watch the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Pakistan supporters display placards as they watch the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Pakistan's Haris Rauf celebrates the dismissal of Canada's Ravinderpal Singh during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Pakistan's Haris Rauf celebrates the dismissal of Canada's Ravinderpal Singh during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Pakistan's Fakhar Zaman fails to take the catch of Canada's Aaron Johnson during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Pakistan's Fakhar Zaman fails to take the catch of Canada's Aaron Johnson during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Pakistan's Haris Rauf looks on during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Pakistan's Haris Rauf looks on during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Pakistan's Mohammad Amir, second left, celebrates with teammates after the dismissal of Canada's captain Saad Bin Zafar during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Pakistan's Mohammad Amir, second left, celebrates with teammates after the dismissal of Canada's captain Saad Bin Zafar during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

“A professional performance,” Marsh said in an understated assessment after Australia bowled out Namibia for 72 and then reached 74-1 with 14 overs to spare. “Great to qualify for the Super 8s.”

Canada’s inexperienced batters crumbled against pace for yet another low score at the T20 World Cup as Pakistan finally registered its first win after losses to the United States and India.

Pakistan’s four-pronged pace attack contained Canada to 106-7 with only opening batter Aaron Johnson showing aggression in his 44-ball knock of 52.

Mohammad Rizwan’s unbeaten 53 anchored Pakistan, coming off a narrow loss to fierce cricket rival India on the weekend, to 107-3 in 17.1 overs.

“Good for us, we needed this win," Pakistan skipper Babar Azam said. “We started well with the bowling, in the first six overs (and) we know we had to be up to the mark.”

Johnson sent early tremors into the former champions with his back-to-back boundaries off Shaheen Shah Afridi’s first two balls of the match.

But Mohammad Amir, who came out of retirement for the World Cup, responded by taking 2-13 and buckling the batters as wickets continued to fall.

Johnson was dropped on 44, raised his half-century with his fourth six before he too was finally undone by Naseem Shah in the 14th over.

Fast bowler Haris Rauf became the third quickest bowler to complete 100 wickets in T20 internationals when he had Shreyas Movva (2) caught behind and then found the edge of Ravinderpal Singh’s bat in the same over to finish with 2-26.

“We wanted to play a positive brand of cricket and I think the wicket was not very helpful," Canada's Pakistan-born skipper Saad Bin Zafar said. "It was difficult to bat early on and not a good toss to lose.:

Rizwan and Babar (33) shared a 63-run stand before the Pakistan skipper banged his bat on the wicket in anger when he tried to guide a delivery to third man and was caught behind. Rizwan’s run-a-ball half-century saw Pakistan over the line.

Pakistan, the 2022 runner-up, needs to beat Ireland in its last game and also hope co-host U.S. lose both its remaining games to India and Ireland to have a chance of advancing.

The Americans opened the tournament with a win over Canada before edging Pakistan in a Super Over tiebreaker in the upset of the tournament.

Heavy rain in Florida meant former champion Sri Lanka and Nepal had to share the competition points in an outcome that ensured South Africa secured a spot in the playoffs and put the Sri Lankans on the brink of a group-stage exit.

There was no play possible in the Group D match at Lauderhill, leaving Sri Lanka without a win in three games.

At North Sound, Antigua, 2021 champion Australia got on top early with Josh Hazlewood (2-18) striking in the third and fifth overs to have the African lineup in trouble at 15-3.

Wrist spinner Adam Zampa took 4-12 from four overs, troubling the middle and lower order and increasing his career haul to 100 wickets in T20 internationals.

Skipper Gerhard Erasmus accounted for half of Namibia's runs, with his 36 coming off 43 balls.

For Australia, David Warner plundered 20 from eight balls before Travis Head, (34 off 17) and Marsh (18 off nine) steered Australia to victory in 5.4 overs.

“You cannot sit back against the best in the world — that is one thing we learnt tonight,” Erasmus said. “A good side like Australia will expose you if you are not willing to mentally step up on this level.”

Wins over defending champion England, Oman and Namibia were enough for Australia to secure a spot in the Super 8s regardless of the outcome of its last league game against Scotland.

AP cricket: https://apnews.com/hub/cricket

Australia's Adam Zampa tosses a ball while bowling against Namibia during an ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua and Barbuda, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

Australia's Adam Zampa tosses a ball while bowling against Namibia during an ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua and Barbuda, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

Australia's captain Mitchell Marsh plays a shot against Namibia during an ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua and Barbuda, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

Australia's captain Mitchell Marsh plays a shot against Namibia during an ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua and Barbuda, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

Nepal supporters react ahead of the men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Sri Lanka and Nepal at Central Broward Regional Park Stadium, Lauderhill, Florida, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. The match was abandoned due to rain. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Nepal supporters react ahead of the men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Sri Lanka and Nepal at Central Broward Regional Park Stadium, Lauderhill, Florida, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. The match was abandoned due to rain. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Australia's Josh Hazlewood, right, celebrates with teammates after taking the catch of Namibia's David Wiese during an ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua and Barbuda, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

Australia's Josh Hazlewood, right, celebrates with teammates after taking the catch of Namibia's David Wiese during an ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua and Barbuda, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

Nepal supporters react ahead of the men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Sri Lanka and Nepal at Central Broward Regional Park Stadium, Lauderhill, Florida, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Nepal supporters react ahead of the men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Sri Lanka and Nepal at Central Broward Regional Park Stadium, Lauderhill, Florida, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

A groundsman sweeps water from the covers as rain delays the start of the men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Sri Lanka and Nepal at Central Broward Regional Park Stadium, Lauderhill, Florida, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

A groundsman sweeps water from the covers as rain delays the start of the men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Sri Lanka and Nepal at Central Broward Regional Park Stadium, Lauderhill, Florida, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Australia's wicket keeper Matthew Wade, second from right, celebrates the wicket of Namibia's Zane Green, center left, who was trapped LBW, during an ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua and Barbuda, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

Australia's wicket keeper Matthew Wade, second from right, celebrates the wicket of Namibia's Zane Green, center left, who was trapped LBW, during an ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua and Barbuda, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

Groundsmen sweep water from the covers as rain delays the start of the men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Sri Lanka and Nepal at Central Broward Regional Park Stadium, Lauderhill, Florida, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. The match was abandoned due to rain. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Groundsmen sweep water from the covers as rain delays the start of the men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Sri Lanka and Nepal at Central Broward Regional Park Stadium, Lauderhill, Florida, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. The match was abandoned due to rain. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Australia's Travis Head bats against Namibia during an ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua and Barbuda, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

Australia's Travis Head bats against Namibia during an ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua and Barbuda, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

Pakistan's captain Babar Azam, left, and Mohammad Rizwan run between the wickets to score during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Pakistan's captain Babar Azam, left, and Mohammad Rizwan run between the wickets to score during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Pakistan's captain Babar Azam plays a shot during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Pakistan's captain Babar Azam plays a shot during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Pakistan's Mohammad Rizwan plays a shot during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Pakistan's Mohammad Rizwan plays a shot during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Canada's Dilon Heyliger, left, celebrates the dismissal of Pakistan's Saim Ayub, right, during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Canada's Dilon Heyliger, left, celebrates the dismissal of Pakistan's Saim Ayub, right, during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Pakistan's Mohammad Amir reacts after bowling a delivery during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Pakistan's Mohammad Amir reacts after bowling a delivery during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Canada's captain Saad Bin Zafar, right, runs past Pakistan's Haris Rauf after playing a shot during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Canada's captain Saad Bin Zafar, right, runs past Pakistan's Haris Rauf after playing a shot during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Pakistan supporters display placards as they watch the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Pakistan supporters display placards as they watch the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Pakistan's Haris Rauf celebrates the dismissal of Canada's Ravinderpal Singh during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Pakistan's Haris Rauf celebrates the dismissal of Canada's Ravinderpal Singh during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Pakistan's Fakhar Zaman fails to take the catch of Canada's Aaron Johnson during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Pakistan's Fakhar Zaman fails to take the catch of Canada's Aaron Johnson during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Pakistan's Haris Rauf looks on during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Pakistan's Haris Rauf looks on during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Pakistan's Mohammad Amir, second left, celebrates with teammates after the dismissal of Canada's captain Saad Bin Zafar during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Pakistan's Mohammad Amir, second left, celebrates with teammates after the dismissal of Canada's captain Saad Bin Zafar during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

LOND POND, Pa. (AP) — Ryan Blaney popped some bubbly and hopped off a stage in victory lane so he could spray it at all the fans who stuck around to celebrate on a steamy day at Pocono Raceway.

They might need to bust open a few more bottles of the good stuff at Team Penske.

Moments after Blaney slid out of his No. 12 Ford after he secured his second Cup Series win in five weeks, the 2023 NASCAR champion learned that Will Power won the IndyCar race for Team Penske at Iowa Speedway. Penske driver Scott McLaughlin won Saturday at Iowa, giving team owner Roger Penske three wins in two days across 990 miles -- with all directions pointing toward championship runs.

“Penske sweep!” Blaney blurted out.

Pretty impressive.

The pressure is on, though, for the follow-up. NASCAR heads to Indianapolis this week for the anticipated return of the Brickyard 400 on the historic oval at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The track is owned by Penske, the 87-year-old team owner who already has all three of his NASCAR drivers in the playoffs and has Power and McLaughlin in hot pursuit of points leader Alex Palou for IndyCar's open-wheel crown.

Ask any Penske driver, there’s nothing like winning at Indy.

“The big one is next week,” Blaney said. “How do we kiss the bricks with the captain? That’s like a dream come true for me."

Penske drivers Blaney, Austin Cindric and Joey Logano are on a tear in NASCAR, dating to the June 2 race at World Wide Technology Raceway in Illinois. Blaney appeared to be on his way to his first win of the season in that one until he ran out of fuel with the lead coming to the white flag. No worries. Cindric zipped ahead and earned his first win since the 2022 Daytona 500. Logano won four races later at Nashville Superspeedway and Blaney won the inaugural Cup race last month at Iowa Speedway.

Penske drivers have won four of the last seven Cup races.

Why does that make any of the trio a contender to win a Cup championship? Because Logano won it in 2002 and Blaney followed last season, setting up a nice championship blueprint to follow.

“We’ve won the championship with Joey and Ryan the last two years, and it’s all about using that system to be able to get to the next round each time,” Cindric said. “Whether if that’s winning races late in the playoffs or having enough points, our guys have been able to really execute in that round of eight and propel themselves into a position to be in the championship four.”

Blaney already knows the importance of getting hot late in the season. Blaney turned up his performance last season in the No. 12 Ford in the playoffs. Over the final six weeks, Blaney racked up two wins, two runner-ups and didn’t finish lower than 12th.

At Pocono, he put the field on notice a repeat could be in the works.

“We are in a better spot at this time this year than where we were last year at this point,” Blaney said.

It’s the end that counts, of course.

Penske -- and NASCAR -- is celebrating a new beginning of sorts at Indy. NASCAR will return to the 2.5-mile oval for the traditional Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis this weekend rather than the 2.439-mile road course it used the last three seasons.

The last NASCAR driver to win on Indy’s oval was Kevin Harvick in 2020, who retired at the end of last season. The inaugural Brickyard 400 was held on Aug. 6, 1994, and NASCAR raced on the oval through 2020.

“I’m super excited. I think this was a decision that a lot of drivers wanted,” Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron said. “I think the track is fun to make laps on. I’m sure it will be tricky with the Next Gen car. Probably a little bit edgy. But I think it will be everything we want as drivers, to be back on the oval with the history that it has.”

Penske driver Josef Newgarden won the Indianapolis 500 in May, giving the owner his trio of NASCAR drivers a chance at a season sweep.

The 30-year Blaney felt at Pocono like he had come full circle on the tri-oval track after winning at the site of his first Cup win in 2017. He will take wins at any track, but there’s just something about Indy.

“We’re going to enjoy this and appreciate it and celebrate it,” Blaney said. “But that is the one we have circled. We don’t even talk about it in our camp. You know that is a huge one for RP. It is full speed ahead for Indy.”

AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing

Ryan Blaney crosses the finish line to win a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Pocono Raceway, Sunday, July 14, 2024, in Long Pond, Pa. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)

Ryan Blaney crosses the finish line to win a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Pocono Raceway, Sunday, July 14, 2024, in Long Pond, Pa. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)

Ryan Blaney celebrates his win with a burnout after a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Pocono Raceway, Sunday, July 14, 2024, in Long Pond, Pa. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)

Ryan Blaney celebrates his win with a burnout after a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Pocono Raceway, Sunday, July 14, 2024, in Long Pond, Pa. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)

Ryan Blaney celebrates in the victory lane after winning a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Pocono Raceway, Sunday, July 14, 2024, in Long Pond, Pa. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)

Ryan Blaney celebrates in the victory lane after winning a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Pocono Raceway, Sunday, July 14, 2024, in Long Pond, Pa. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)

Ryan Blaney celebrates in the victory lane after winning a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Pocono Raceway, Sunday, July 14, 2024, in Long Pond, Pa. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)

Ryan Blaney celebrates in the victory lane after winning a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Pocono Raceway, Sunday, July 14, 2024, in Long Pond, Pa. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)

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