Dubai: Pakistan will definitely want to take their winning momentum to semi-final of T20 World Cup against Australia on Thursday.
The men in green, with five wins from as many games, did everything right from the word go with no apparent weaknesses - except against New Zealand to some extent when Asif Ali and veteran Shoaib Malik bailed them out. The fact that they have played a lot of their cricket here and consider UAE as a home away from home is showing.
Another big advantage for them as they take on Australia is the presence of Matthew Hayden as their consultant. The giant Australian opener’s guidance and words of advice will be invaluable for the young team at this crucial stage as Hayden is well aware of possible areas of weakness of Aaron Finch’s side.
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A close look at Pakistan’s batting and one feels that captain Babar Azam and Mohammed Rizwan have done a great job as openers, but I feel they could be thinking about scoring at a faster rate during powerplay than what they’ve been doing in few previous games. That could be helpful for batsmen coming down the order as it would allow them to take a few balls to understand how the pitch is playing.
The form of the two veterans, Mohammed Hafeez and Shoaib Malik had been a big plus for Azam’s young team. Malik showed what he is still capable of by scoring the fastest 50 of just 18 balls in the last game. Asif has already proved to be lethal during the chases against New Zealand and Afghanistan in group stage games while Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan and Hassan Ali can strike a few big blows if needed.!
Looking at current Pakistan team, it’s apparent that they are playing as an unit and all are backing up each other - which is evident on and off the field.
The Pakistan bowling has ticked all the boxes, with perhaps the exception of Hassan Ali. However, I am pretty sure he will click in the big game as we know that he has been very effective in crunch games in the past.
In the T20 format, the bowlers have to be accurate as there is little margin of error. That’s precisely what Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf and Hassan Ali have been doing alongwith Imad, Shadab and Hafeez. They also have Shoaib’s tight off-spin as a back-up and with such depth in bowling, Babar must be quite happy for the options. “I like to keep things simple and stick to the plan,” he said.
If I recall correctly, this is the first time in a T20 World Cup that a team has qualified for semi-finals unbeaten. Pakistan has done it they are now just two wins away to make it a complete whitewash but to win against a team like Australia in a crucial match, they have to be on top of their game in all departments. All they need to ensure is to keep playing attacking brand of cricket - that’s their only recipe.