It’s New Zealand vs Pakistan in the T20 World Cup semi-final
Perennial underdogs New Zealand find their route to the final blocked by a plucky Pakistan side.
Who: Pakistan vs New Zealand
When: November 9, 08:00 GMT
Where: Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney, Australia
The first semi-final of the T20 World Cup is between two teams who, for differing reasons, not many expected to see at this stage of the tournament.
New Zealand’s underdogs tag at every World Cup is as perennial as it is perplexing. The Black Caps have reached at least the semi-finals of every World Cup since 2015 and have been losing finalists in 2019 (50 overs) and 2021 (20 overs).
Despite this stellar record, few expected them to make it out of the group that also featured England and hosts Australia, never mind topping it.
Pakistan, meanwhile, evoked the spirit of their 1992 World Cup triumph where they qualified for the semi-finals despite winning just one of their first five games and went on to lift the cup.
To say their tournament so far has been a rollercoaster ride would be an understatement. Eulogies for their World Cup campaign began pouring in after their loss to Zimbabwe but wins in their remaining three group games and a helping hand from Netherlands who defeated South Africa, saw them seal a semi-final berth.
Mathew Hayden "They turn up on big moments & that's what I like most in Pakistan Cricket. Babar Azam is out of form but there's calm before every storm, In 2007 WC Gilchrist was off colour but in final he proved out to be a match winner, Babar to shine soon" #PakvsNz #T20WorldCup pic.twitter.com/GA45AFyntK
— Ahmad Haseeb (@iamAhmadhaseeb) November 8, 2022
Pakistan hold the edge over New Zealand in their T20 head-to-head record, having won 17 of the 28 matches.
In the past year, the two have crossed paths numerous times. In their Super 12 tie at the World Cup last year, Pakistan comprehensively defeated New Zealand by five wickets. Ahead of this year’s tournament, teams, along with Bangladesh, played a T20 tri-series where Babar Azam’s men won two of the three games against the Black Caps, including the final.
But Kane Williamson will take encouragement from the fact that Pakistan has lost each of its last three semi-finals in the tournament
Route to the final
The Black Caps hammered hosts and champions Australia in their tournament opener, had a match washed out and lost a high-quality contest to England before reaching a fifth successive white-ball World Cup semi-final as group winners.
- Beat Australia by 89 runs
- Match abandoned vs Afghanistan
- Beat Sri Lanka by 65 runs
- Lost to England by 20 runs
- Beat Ireland by 35 runs
Pakistan’s journey started with a remarkable loss to India in front of 92,000 fans in Melbourne which was followed by an equally dramatic upset at the hands of Zimbabwe and a rain-disrupted win over South Africa.
They scraped into the last-four by beating Bangladesh but only after a stunning upset of South Africa by the Dutch in the final round of group matches had cleared the path.
- Lost to India by four wickets
- Lost to Zimbabwe by one run
- Beat Netherlands by six wickets
- Beat South Africa by 33 runs
- Beat Bangladesh by five wickets
Four teams remain 🤩
It all begins at the SCG 🏟#T20WorldCup pic.twitter.com/MkSsYYE0pd
— T20 World Cup (@T20WorldCup) November 8, 2022
Australia’s pitches have been perfectly suited for the formidable pace attacks of both sides.
Shaheen Afridi has shown signs of returning to his best after injury and is ably supported by Haris Rauf and Mohamad Wasim.
For New Zealand, their trusted trio of Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson have all been impressive.
The semi-final will hinge on the teams’ batting. New Zealand’s top order is strewn with firepower in Glenn Phillips, Finn Allen and Devon Conway. While Kane Williamson has been woefully short of form, his 61 of 35 in their last group game against Ireland is an encouraging sign for New Zealand.
Pakistan’s star openers Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam have so far struggled for fluency. While players like Iftikhar Ahmed, Shan Masood and Shadab Khan have stepped up at regular intervals, Pakistan will lead their openers to fire if they are to reach their first T20 World Cup final since 2009. And then there is the recent discovery that is Mohammad Haris.