The second semi-final of the ICC T20 World Cup 2021 will be a rematch of the semi-final we saw 11 years back, where Mike Hussey famously took down Saeed Ajmal. Group 2 table-toppers Pakistan will take on the second-placed Australia from Group 1 at Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Thursday for a spot in the final.
Pakistan, who weren’t really big favourites ahead of the tournament, have done exceedingly well to top the points table in Group 2. Pakistan claimed a stunning victory over India by 10 wickets and didn’t look back, beating New Zealand and Afghanistan in the next two matches. Considering the trend of batting first teams struggling in the tournament, Pakistan chose to bat first in the last two games and defeated Scotland and Namibia with ease.
Given the state of the Australian T20 team leading into the tournament, not many gave them a chance for the semi-finals, but they have done a terrific job, winning four of the five Super 12s games. Australia defeated South Africa and Sri Lanka in the first two matches before England annihilated them in the third.
The Aussies made a strong comeback to hammer Bangladesh and West Indies as they secured second place in Group 1. They edged past South Africa by virtue of their net run-rate of 1.216 compared to SA’s 0.739.
The former champions Pakistan have immense experience in these UAE conditions and would be looking to reach their third World T20 final. Australia would be determined to build towards their first title.
Babar Azam has a strong game against almost all types of bowling. The 27-year-old has piled up runs for fun in T20 cricket, amassing 2468 runs in 61 international T20s at an average of 48 while scoring at 130 SR. He is the leading the batting charts in this tournament with 264 runs from five innings at an average of 66 and strike rate of 128, including four fifties.
Shaheen Afridi has made a name for himself as one of the top T20 bowlers going around. The left-arm pacer has a wide range of skill set with speed, yorkers, and swing up his sleeve. He has taken 38 wickets in T20 internationals at 7.93 rpo with the best of 3/20.
Shaheen has claimed six wickets in the tournament at 6.70 rpo. He will be a key player as he has the ability to break the game in the powerplay like he did against India with a fiery spell of 3/31.
David Warner has a legacy as one of the all-time greatest batters in the T20 format. After starving for runs in the last few months, he has found some form in this tournament with 187 runs in five innings at an average of 47 and strike rate of 145. The left handed dynamo was at his belligerent best in the last game, where he smashed 89* off 56 against the Windies.
Josh Hazlewood has been superb this year, picking 20 wickets in 13 T20 internationals at 6.66 rpo and a strike rate of 14. The tall Aussie quick has been terrific in the ongoing world cup, having picked 8 wickets at 6.87 rpo, including the spell of 4/39 against the Windies.
Pakistan have dominated the historic head to head record against Australia. Out of 23 clashes, Pakistan have defeated the Aussies on 13 occasions while Australia have managed nine wins. The scoreline stands 3-3 in World T20 events.
Both the teams have strong bowling lineups. Pakistan have an excellent pace trio of Afridi, Haris Rauf and Hasan Ali, while the spinners are decent. Australia have an outstanding four frontline bowlers in Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Adam Zampa. The fifth bowler’s quota could be a worry for them.
In the batting department, Pakistan have an in-form opening duo of Azam and Mohammad Rizwan. Their middle-order batters Mohammad Hafeez, Asif Ali and Shoaib Malik have also made an impact. Australia’s batting has found its feet over the course of the tournament, with Warner coming back to form and Mitchell Marsh sealing the number 3 spot.
Overall, both the teams stack up against each other very well and the match result could depend a lot on who wins the coin toss.