Tue, 8 Nov 2022

ICC T20 World Cup 2022: Five key things to look forward to in the first semi finals

New Zealand return to Sydney Cricket Ground on Wednesday to take on Pakistan. A win for the Kane Williamson led side will give them the a chance to make it to their 2nd successive final of the T20 World Cup. The Kiwis had made it to the final of the 2021 T20 World Cup Final which was held at UAE. Last year they lost the brilliance of the Australian batters who went on to win their 1st ever World T20 Title.

Pakistan on the other hand wrote another fairytale with a rather unexplainable route to the semi finals. The Babar Azam led side lost their first 2 games to India and Zimbabwe to be nearly out of the tournament. With 3 wins on the bounce and the good fortune of South Africa losing to Netherlands, Pakistan made it to the final four of the tournament.

Pakistan pacers vs Kiwi openers –

Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf and Mohmmad Wasim Jr have brought the Pakistani team into life. The foursome have been instrumental with the ball as Pakistan made a comeback into the 2022 T20 World Cup.

Shaheen Afridi has picked 8 wickets with the 4 wicket haul vs Bangladesh to boost his tally, Mohammad Wasim Jr has picked 7, while Rauf has 6 wickets to his credit. Naseem Shah may have picked only 3 wickets but he has been instrumental in unsettling the opposition with his pace.

The kiwi openers Finn Allen and Devon Conway have taken the aggressive route against each team. Conway has scored 124 runs in the tournament while Finn Allen has scored 91. Those 91 runs though have come at a good strike rate, it will be fascinating to see how the Kiwi openers play against the Pakistani pacers,

Pakistan weak against off spin?

Pakistan over the years have had the tendency to struggle against off spin bowling. This could tempt Kane Williamson to include Michael Bracewell. This could be done specially to counter the potential threat of Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan.

Since 2020 the Pakistani captain and wicket keeper duo who have opened the batting haven’t fared well against the off spin bowling. Babar Azam has a strike rate of 120, while Rizwan has a strike rate of 102. The likes of Iftikhar Ahmed and Mohammad Nawaz too have struggled against off spin bowling.

Considering that Ish Sodhi has struggled against the Pakistanis, the decision to include Bracewell might be a winner. Also the fact that Bracewell is a handy finisher might give him a look into the side for the Semi Finals.

Bat first to win the match at SCG?

Total of 6 matches have been played at SCG during the 2022 T20 World Cup. 5 teams have won the toss and chosen to bat first. All the 5 times the team winning the toss has batted first it has gone on to win the game. England is the only side to have won at SCG while chasing and this was after Sri Lanka elected to bat first after winning the toss.  

SCG has something in it for the batters with the hard new ball and the short square boundaries. There is decent amount of swing and seam on offer during the latter half of the innings. With no rain in the air, the team chasing could find it difficult with the pitch also keeping low and aiding the spinners.

Pace or Spin? The SCG conundrum –

Sydney has this year favored the swing and seam bowlers more than the spinners in the initial phase. With the tournament going into its final stages and the pitches showing wear and tear, the case for spin gets stronger. While the pacers have picked 52 wickets at SCG, the spinners have gone for just under 7 runs per over while picking 31 wickets at SCG.

You may see both the teams go in with 3-2 combination with James Neesham doing the back up role. Boult and Southee will be handful with the new ball, while Ferguson will have huge role for the kiwis and you will read about it next. Neesham can bowl some wily cutters, while Santner and Bracewell can bowl their crafty spin.

Hard lengths the kryptonite for Pakistan-

Pakistani batters have struggled against the balls which are bowled at a hard length and with pace. This is where someone like Lockie Ferguson can come into play as he has the pace and the ability to bowl those uncomfortable lengths.

Pakistan have lost 14 wickets to the hard length bowling and have scored a strike rate of just 96. New Zealand new ball bowlers Southee and Boult can also exploit this as they also have the added advantage of swing and seam in their arsenal.