Sydney: Sitting on the verge of elimination, Pakistan got a lifeline as Netherlands’ caused a big upset in ICC T20 World Cup by ending South Africa’s semi-final wish and now the Asian team is bracing for the encounter with fancied New Zealand to make it to the finals. The two teams had last met in the final of the tri-nation series held in New Zealand and Pakistan came out on top.
Pakistan will seek to keep their winning momentum to move for the summit clash while New Zealand team often comes up with a clinical performance. “The moment Pakistan cricket fires off with intent and starts to reveal its teeth, we become a real threat. There will be no one in this world and this competition that would want to face us right now,” Pakistan team mentor Matthew Hayden said .
Pakistan looks solid on paper. It has two openers, Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan, who also are two of the best T20I batters in the world. However, they have been facing a lean patch in the tournament. Azam has only scored 39 in five matches while Rizwan has scored 103 runs in equal number of matches. But there is a solid number three in Shan Masood who can stabilise the innings.
The middle order is a dynamic mix of floaters and power-hitters like Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Haris. There is enough variety in terms of left-right hand options. There are two quality spinners and a world-class pace attack headed by Shaheen Afridi and Haris Rauf that has so far delivered fine performances in the tournament. New Zealand is a better all-round team.
Devon Conway, Finn Allen, Glenn Phillips and James Neesham are capable of demolishing any bowling attack on a given day, while Kane Williamson, the skipper is there to provide stability. He seems to have overcome issues with his strike rate, scoring 61 of 35 balls in his side’s last Group Stage match.
The batting is deep and can play in a variety of situations. The Kiwi bowling attack is also great, consisting of dangerous pacers like Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Lockie Ferguson and spin bowlers like Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi.
New Zealand have thrashed the hosts Australia and have wins in all matches of the tournament except one. One of their games was washed out. Pakistan are coming into the game after three back-to-back wins. The winner will play the team that wins the second semi-final on Thursday between India and England.