Venue: Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai
Date: Thursday, November 11
The second semi-final of the 2021 T20 Would Cup sees Group 2 winners Pakistan taking on Australia, the second-placed team from Group 1. The winner will face New Zealand in the final on Sunday after the Black Caps pulled off a thrilling run chase to beat England in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
Pakistan is the form team of the tournament having won all five of their matches and finishing the group stages with ten points out of a possible ten. Their most important win of the groups’ stages was their first match in the tournament as they beat bitter rivals India by ten wickets as they chased down 152 in emphatic fashion without loss and behind 79 from 55 balls from Mohammad Rizwan. A win over potential final opponents New Zealand was next up – this time by five wickets – a win that will give Pakistan plenty of confidence for the final if they overcome Australia here.
The rest of their games in Group 2 were fairly by-the-numbers affairs, with Pakistan controlling games against Afghanistan (five wickets), Namibia (45 runs, and Scotland (72 runs).
Australia finished second to England in Group 1 on Net Run Rate after both countries finished on eight points (along with South Africa) after their five games played. The crucial game actually ended up being their very first in pool play as they beat South Africa by five wickets after running down a score of 118/9. That set Australia in a great position in the group and a win over Sri Lanka when they ran down 155 to win only strengthened the growing feeling in the camp that they could do some damage in the UAE.
Losing to England after reaching just 125 from their 20 overs – and seeing England run that score down after just 11.4 overs of their own – was not ideal, but the ship was steadied with wins over Bangladesh (in 6.2 overs) and the West Indies – by eight wickets. Australia has the ability to test Pakistan here.
If Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam get going then this could be a long night for Australia. The two have been simply outstanding this tournament and it would be out of character for either to have problems from the outset here. Behind them, there is power and hitting ability throughout the order, with finishers like Asif Ali ready to step in and up a run rate if needed. Look for Shaheen Shah Afridi to bring his left-hand swing to the table early to catch out the Aussie openers and put them on the backfoot.
Australia has the talent, but it hasn’t really shown yet in the UAE. The dismantling by England still stings, and it will be up to a bowling attack of Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, and Patrick Cummings to get at least one of the Pakistani openers early to give them a platform to bowl around. It will be interesting to see how Glenn Maxwell bats if needed in the middle order after the smasher hasn’t faced a ball in his last two innings combined.
As with any T20 match, the toss will be crucial. Whoever bats first is at a massive disadvantage and if it is Pakistan that gets to go in second then I don’t see a route for Australia to win. The Pakistanis are firing on all cylinders right now and I like them to take this at 8/10 regardless of the outcome of the coin flip.