Australia will rely on their top-order batting, led by the explosive David Warner, and Adam Zampa’s arsenal of leg-spin tricks to defeat a red-hot Pakistan in the Twenty20 World Cup’s second semi-final on Thursday.
With four wins and a better run rate than South Africa, Australia advanced to their first tournament semi-final since 2012.
However, they will face an unbeaten Pakistan, who stormed into the final four with five Super 12 wins, including their first ever in the tournament against rivals India.
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Australia has five 50-over World Cup titles, including three in a row, but has yet to win a T20 world title in six tries.
Warner, who bats left-handed, has led the charge, scoring 89 not out in Australia’s win over the West Indies and a quickfire 65 against Sri Lanka, which silenced his detractors. He now has a total of 187 runs for the tournament.
“I was never concerned about Dave’s physical condition. “He’s one of the all-time great batsmen of our era,” said captain Aaron Finch of his opening partner, who was dropped from his IPL team before the World Cup.
According to all-rounder Glenn Maxwell, the Australian batsmen will not hold back and will go for the runs in order to unsettle Pakistan’s attack led by left-arm quick Shaheen Shah Afridi.
“I’ve seen teams go the other way and try to hold wickets back to ensure they get to go at the end,” Maxwell explained.
“However, for us, it’s probably the freedom at the start and really trying to make the most of the powerplay and put the opposition on the back foot.”
With 11 wickets, Zampa is the tournament’s joint second-highest wicket-taker, but the 29-year-old has remained unnoticed.
“I don’t think anyone has underrated him,” Finch said of Zampa, who had a tournament-best 5-19 against Bangladesh in Dubai.
“He’s someone who enjoys competition and fighting.”
Matthew Hayden, a former Australia opener who is now the team’s batting coach, is in the Pakistan camp.
Hayden sees the partnership between skipper Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan as crucial. Azam is the World Cup’s leading run maker with 264 ahead of the semi-finals.
“They are very independent players with their own styles, but their blend and mix create the perfect combination.” “They’re one-of-a-kind,” Hayden explained.
Babar and Rizwan hit the ground running at the World Cup, putting on an unbroken 152-run stand as Pakistan defeated India by 10 wickets in Dubai — their first win over their arch-rivals in 13 World Cup matches.
“We will try to maintain the level of consistency that we have shown throughout the tournament and hope to play good cricket in the semi-finals,” said Babar, who has four half-centuries in five innings.
“You can’t take any team lightly in T20 cricket,” Babar said of facing Australia. On that day, you must play excellent cricket.”
Asif Ali, Pakistan’s finisher, hit four sixes off Afghanistan bowler Karim Janat to get his team the required 25 runs in the penultimate over of their Super 12 match.
Shoaib Malik, who hit an 18-ball 54 in his side’s previous pool win over Scotland, and Mohammad Hafeez add experience to the batting order.
And, with Afridi looking dangerous with the new ball, the 2009 champions appear to have all bases covered.
Former Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar, however, warned the team not to be complacent in their knockout match.
“Forget the Super 12 now, just ride the momentum into the semis with a renewed focus,” Akhtar tweeted.
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