Australia run in to red hot team Pakistan in the second semi-finals at the Dubai Cricket Stadium and face an acid test against a team which has not lost a single game in UAE in their last 16 contests. The last time Pakistan lost was way back in November 2015 and that too in a super over.
Moreover, Pakistan is the only team which won all their five games in the Super 12 stage and all their players have shown form - be it batting, bowling and most importantly fielding where they have shown terrific improvement. Pakistan first beat India by 10 wickets in their first game and then they overcame New Zealand and Afghanistan, thanks to some great hitting by Asif Ali - in whom they found a finisher which had eluded them for long time.
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Moreover, the good form of their openers in captain Babar Azam and Mohammed Rizwan has set the platform for the experienced players like Mohammed Hafeez and Shoaib Malik to give the right push in the middle overs. Their bowling too has looked very good with young Shaheen Shah Afridi leading the pack along with speedster Haris Rauf - who have both shown great temperament and skills in both the opening overs as well as bowling at the death. Their spinners, Shadab Khan and Imad Wasim too, have bowled tidily and have not allowed any of the batsman to go after them.
The only thing in Australia’s favour is that they have never lost to Pakistan in a knockout game in an ICC event and beaten them all the four times. The most noticeable was the 2010 T20 World Cup semi-finals in West Indies when Michael Hussey snatched victory from the jaws of defeat by scoring 60 off 24 balls to chase down the target of 191. Australia, too, has peaked at the right time with David Warner and Mitchell Marsh striking form but if Pakistan get in to the middle order of Australia as they did against India, it will test the Aussie skills in this crucial knockout game.
When Australia last toured UAE in 2018-19, they had lost 3-0 to Pakistan in the three T20s. Can Australia then get past the in-form Pakistan team in Dubai, arguably the team to beat in this tournament.
We will have to wait till Thursday evening but current form and conditions favour Pakistan.
- Cricket enthusiast Anis Sajan is the Vice-Chairman of Danube Group