Unbeaten Pakistan will take on Australia in the second semi-final of the Twenty20 World Cup 2021 in Dubai this evening. The penultimate game of the tournament is scheduled to get underway at 7.30pm Sri Lanka time.
2010 World T20 Champions Pakistan have an unblemished record in the tournament winning all five Super 12 group encounters. They qualified for the semis as the top team from Super 12 Group 2. Pakistan, captained by Babar Azam kick-started their campaign by thrashing pre-tournament favourites India by 10 wickets. They followed it up with a clinical five-wicket victory over New Zealand. They brushed past Afghanistan also by five wickets, Namibia by 45 runs and Scotland by 72 runs. Skipper Azam and his opening partner Mohammad Rizwan have scored 264 and 214 runs respectively, the most by Pakistanis in the tournament. Shoaib Malik hit an 18-ball 54 in the last encounter while Moahmmad Hafeez and Asif Ali also have made cameos when required. Fakhar Zaman’s form has been a concern while openers consistently being among runs have given the Pakistani middle order and the all-rounders very little time on the pitch. Meanwhile, Shaheen Shah Afridi is the new leader of the Pakistani pace attack. He decimated the Indian top order in the first game but has done little since. Haris Rauf has been consistent picking up eight wickets. Hasan Ali and spin twins Shadab Khan and Imaad Wasim have made only a limited impact in Pakistan’s progress to the semi-finals.
Australia left it until late and had to depend on other results to progress to the semi-final. They won four of the five Super 12 games and lost to old nemesis England by eight wickets. The Aaron Finch-led team had the same amount of points as England and South Africa but progressed thanks to big wins over Bangladesh and the West Indies. Despite coming into the tournament out-of-form, David Warner has hit the ball around the park freely and remains the highest run getter for the Aussies. He has scored 187 runs well ahead of skipper Finch’s tally of 130. Mitchell Marsh has been the only other Aussie batter who has made any contribution in this tournament. Leg spinner Adam Zampa has taken more wickets than the faster men. Reliable Zampa has picked up 11 wickets so far, and is second in the overall wicket-takers tally. Josh Hazlewood has taken eight wickets while Mitchell Starc has taken seven and have combined well during power plays. All-rounder Pat Cummins has not been among wickets nor has he scored runs while Glenn Maxwell has also been below-par.
Both teams are likely to name an unchanged XI today but the captains will be more concerned about the toss with dew being a major factor in Dubai. Pakistan has a 12-9 win record against Australia in T20Is but Aaron Finch with his fierce pace attack will be confident of securing a win today and set up a World Cup final with New Zealand.
Prediction: Captain who wins the toss to qualify for the finals