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T20 World Cup: Semi-finals Preview

THE T20 World Cup is down to four teams, with England, New Zealand, Pakistan and Australia qualifying for the knockout round. 

Let’s take a look at how each semi-final shapes up and how we think it’ll play out.

England vs New Zealand (Thursday, 1am AEDT) 

The first semi-final sees England, who were dominant in their first four matches before hitting a hurdle, take on New Zealand, who weren’t supposed to make the knockout stages, but have done so in convincing fashion after four wins from five games.  

Arguably, England had the trickier group with Australia, South Africa, and dangerously inconsistent teams in Sri Lanka, the West Indies and Bangladesh. Compare that to Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Namibia and Scotland who New Zealand had to go past and it’s an understandable outcome. 

From rolling the West Indies for 55 to chasing down 125 against Australia in just 11.4 overs, England have been a dominant force until they conceded 189 against South Africa in their final group stage game, then failed to chase it down. In saying that, they had already qualified at that point and would have been less than stressed about the outcome. 

Back at their best, and they will be hard to stop. It’s Jos Buttler who has led the way with the bat for the Poms, scoring 240 runs in five innings and a very fair clip. He has been ably supported by the remainder of the batting order, but it’s the bowlers who have been at their best, with the game against South Africa being the first time they have conceded more than 140 runs all tournament. 

Adil Rashid has led the way after the quick bowlers, and if they continue that, then New Zealand’s somewhat shaky batting (keep in mind they were limited to 134 against Pakistan) may come under considerable pressure. 

New Zealand’s key will be ensuring it’s a small chase, or that they can defend a low target, but with only Trent Boult and Ish Sodhi bowling well (Boult has taken 11 wickets), it’s hard to suggest they’ll have the firepower to stop England, who should advance to the final. 

Our best bet: England to win this one fairly comfortably.

 Pakistan vs Australia (Friday, 1am AEDT) 

If New Zealand are up against it in their semi-final, then their Trans-Tasman rivals are going to face an even tougher challenge. In a format Australia have always seemingly struggled at, they come up against a fiercely competitive and in-form Pakistan team who are yet to drop a game this tournament. 

Pakistan have gone past India with ease, belted New Zealand and handled the rest of their group with an ease you’d expect a leading light to do against minnows. The only time they have scored less than 140 runs with the bat was when they were chasing 134 against New Zealand on a difficult pitch, and even then they did it with eight balls to spare, while their last two games have seen them score 189 on both occasions against Namibia and Scotland, for the loss of two and four wickets respectively. 

There can be no getting around the fact Pakistan are in wonderful form, led by Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan who have scored 264 and 214 runs in their five innings a piece respectively. This is a team who have shown no signs of slowing down, and blasted all opposition out of their way with relative ease. 

It’s hard to see Australia putting up a great fight, although their own form has improved. Apart from the heavy loss to England, they finished the group stage undefeated, qualifying on net run rate ahead of South Africa following a commanding final group stage win over the West Indies. David Warner has refound his form, and not a moment too soon given the immense advantages he brings to his country when at the top of his game. 

He blasted 89 off just 56 balls against the West Indies, while Mitchell Marsh also took the opportunity to find some form ahead of the knockout stages. Australia’s top order being in form will be crucial in attempting to match it with the Pakistanis. 

Adam Zampa has led the way with the ball though for the Australians, taking another wicket and going at just five runs per over in a restricting spell last time out. He will need more of the game through the middle overs if the Aussies are to limit the impact of Pakistan’s damaging batting order, while the up front bowlers – Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins – will need to be on their game. They have all shown pleasing signs at one point or another, but struggled for consistency, with Hazlewood the key man last time out as he picked up four wickets. 

Still, this is an uphill battle for Australia. Maybe the only advantage towards them is the fact Pakistan’s last two hitouts have been against minnows, meaning it could be a little tough to get a proper read on their form. 

Our best bet: Pakistan win.


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