The ICC Men’s T20 World Cup is heading towards its business end. While there was a lot of predictions anticipation in the build-up to this event, the competition has surprised many fans while it has only been along the expected lines for many. Although most teams had picked Team India as one of the favourites to lift the trophy this year, the Men in Blue did are out of the contention of the final four even before they have played their final Super 12 encounter.
Similarly, West Indies were backed by several cricketing experts and pundits as the team who could go on to reach the final four but they had a disappointing season too and their batting just could not get going as a unit with several of their top stars underperforming.
The four sides that have made it to the semifinal lineup are England, Australia, Pakistan and New Zealand. The Three Lions were being backed as one of the prime contenders to go out there and win the Cup and they have played exactly like what was expected out of them and how they have modelled their white-ball game.
Similarly, Pakistan who have topped Group 2 was also a very dangerous side in this form of the game and they showed exactly why in the manner in which they defeated both India and New Zealand before ending the Super 12s as the only unbeaten team in the tournament so far.
Australia and New Zealand have both not won the tournament before but this could well be their chance. While the Aussies seem to be peaking at the right stage with the missing blocks to the puzzle being unearthed, New Zealand always finds a way to produce a performance that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Here is a SWOT Analysis of each of the four teams in the semis:
a) England– A well-rounded team England’s biggest strength is the clarity in their approach to the white-ball game. Their batters know what exactly is expected of them and they try and excel in that role based on the skill set that they have. Moreover, the Three Lions continue to go with the same approach irrespective of the result and thus have now made it a habit of winning consistently playing high-risk cricket.
Trust England to post big despite a top-order collapse, trust England to chase down any total on the board. They have quality pacers, batters who can bowl and bowlers who can bat, giving them depth in both departments. They are electric on the field too with an astute and a World Cup-winning leader at the helm in Eoin Morgan.
b) Australia– While Australia have never won a T20 World Cup before, they know what it takes to excel in white-ball cricket. Moreover, their batting seems to be going from strength to strength after they made a mess out of the opening match against South Africa before managing to win that match. They bat deep and if the need arises, they have the bowling depth too in their ranks with several batters more than capable of chipping in with the ball.
The form of Adam Zampa in the bowling department along with Mitchell Starc will be another huge plus for the Aussies.
c) Pakistan- They are on a mission. This Pakistan team does not make big statements but are silently doing their job, also being at their best conduct on the field. Pakistan had revenge on their minds against India as they were trailing -12 against India in the World Cups as well as from New Zealand who had pulled out of a tour to Pakistan last minute, the players did what they do best and let their performance speak for them.
They did get stuck in the match against New Zealand and Afghanistan but in Asif Ali, they have a finisher who has almost single-handily taken them to the door of the semis. Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan have been in great form and even Shoaib Malik seems to have joined the party with a couple of great innings.
Bowling? Well, their bowling has always been top-class and have several bowling options in their ranks, some of them haven’t been required to bowl such commanding has been their performance in the tournament. In Babar Azam, there is a bubble of calmness that surrounds them.
d) New Zealand- There is a phrase which is often used with New Zealand- they punch above their weight. But the fact remains that sometimes that works to their advantage that they remain low profile, silently doing their job as all the limelight is on teams like India. It helps that there is Kane Williamson at the helm of affairs who has a similar personality himself. On man to man analysis perhaps the Kiwis would look weak but overall they have got more bases covered than otherwise with the players complementing each other pretty well.
a) England- Injury to Jason Roy may force a change to what was looking like a pretty solid batting unit. Their middle-order hasn’t come to the crease early in a high-pressure situation and it would be interesting to see how they perform if the opposition can get a few of their wickets early in a knockout match.
b) Australia- The issue for Australia has been consistency in this format. Moreover, they have not won the World Cup in this format since they sometimes tend to go with a “safe approach” which tends to become the undoing of the team in this form of the game. The reason for England’s huge success in recent years in the white-ball game is that they stick to their plan of attacking cricket to try to reach the total they have in mind, instead of settling for a middling total.
c) Pakistan- Their only concern has been that Fakhar Zaman and Mohammad Hafeez have not contributed as much as they would have liked ideally. Other than that, Pakistan have been very comfortable in the way they have gone about their business.
d) New Zealand- While James Neesham has given the boost along with Glenn Phillips in matches where they required some power hitting to do towards the end, the finishers have not played as many balls against quality attacks as they would have liked.
a) England- Huge opportunity for England to win the T20 World Cup after already clinching the 50 Overs title in 2019. They have been the best white-ball team in recent years for a reason and this could be a huge moment in their cricketing history.
b) Australia– Massive opportunity for Australia to win their first-ever T20 World Cup title this year to add to the five ODI World Cup they already have in their cabinet. This would be huge since not many had given the Australian side a chance heading into the competition and if they can have two just two more good days on the field, what a remarkable result it would be.
c) Pakistan– Pakistan will sense this as an opportunity to tell the world that they are a serious cricketing nation. If they win the World Cup, this will be a big boost to the country that are looking to revamp their domestic structure and invest in the youth who can produce results not only in the shortest format but also in ODIs and Test matches. T20 is the format that best suits the Men in Green and they have a serious chance this time.
d) New Zealand- A humongous chance for New Zealand to end on a high a great cycle which saw them reach the finals of the ODI World Cup, win the inaugural World Test Championship and now a chance to win the T20 World Cup. There are very few contenders of the best team in all three formats at the moment but Kiwis are among the first that comes to mind. This will also be their first-ever World Cup win across white-ball formats and be a further boost to New Zealand as a sporting nation.
a) England- The threat remains the lack of form of captain Eoin Morgan with the bat heading into this tournament. He hasn’t had much to do England- with the bat so far in this competition since the top order has been doing the job for them more often than not.
b) Australia- The Kangaroos look a completely different side when David Warner and Aaron Finch fire at the top of the order. Their form will be crucial in the knockout fixtures. Once they bring Steve Smith in early, the Aussies go back to the rebuilding phase which might help them in recovering but will also keep the opposition in the game.
c) Pakistan- The only two occasions when Pakistan got stuck was when their middle order was exposed relatively earlier. While Malik has delivered for them and there is the assurance of Asif Ali at the back, they need more solidity in there especially against top sides like Australia and England.
d) New Zealand- New Zealand are known to be great players of pace bowling themselves and conditions in UAE could perhaps expose their inhibitions against the spin bowling although it cannot really be termed a weakness, given the quality of batters like Williamson and Devon Conway in the middle.
While all four teams appear strong, the two picks for finalists look like England and Pakistan. If that happens, England may have the advantage having won 14 of the 21 T20I matches between the two nations. Pakistan have only six wins with one match ending without any result.
Disclaimer: The opinion expressed within this article are the author’s personal point of view. They neither reflect the opinion of SportsTiger nor advise anyone to make any prediction based on this. SportsTiger does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.