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The two teams have faced each other in 28 T20 internationals, with Pakistan leading the scoreline by fair margin. They have claimed 17 T20Is whereas New Zealand have won 11 of those. Both the teams have vulnerable batting units but Pakistan have a bowling attack that can exploit the weaknesses better. We predict Pakistan to win the first semi-final on Wednesday.
New Zealand: Finn Allen, Devon Conway (wk), Kane Williamson (c), Glenn Phillips, Daryl Mitchell, James Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson
Pakistan: Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Mohammad Haris, Shan Masood, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Wasim, Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf, Naseem Shah
New Zealand and Pakistan will battle it out in the first semi-final of the ongoing T20 World Cup. The Group 1 leaders will meet the runners-up of Group 2 at Sydney Cricket Ground on Wednesday, November 9th.
New Zealand have had a very good campaign in the group stage, where they defeated Australia, Sri Lanka and Ireland, and had one washout against Afghanistan. Their only loss came against England but topped the group with a superb NRR advantage.
In their previous game, the Black Caps hammered Ireland by 35 runs. Finn Allen provided a rapid start before Kane Williamson scored an excellent 61 off 35. Glenn Phillips and Daryl Mitchell provided the finishing touch to power them to 185. Lockie Ferguson then snared 3 for 22 while Tim Southee, Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi bagged two scalps each.
Pakistan had a rollercoaster in the group stage, where their semi-final chances looked grim after losing their first two matches against India and Zimbabwe. But then they won the last three games and South Africa losing to the Netherlands cleared a way for Pakistan.
The Babar Azam-led side defeated Bangladesh in the final group match by five wickets to seal the semifinal spot. Shaheen Afridi was at his best, picking 4 for 22 as they restricted Bangladesh to just 127. Their openers again struggled to score at a good rate but Mohammad Haris (31 off 18) and Shan Masood (24* off 14) took them over the line.
New Zealand haven't made a change to their side since Daryl Mitchell returned from an injury and they are likely to be unchanged for this crucial clash. Finn Allen is a key member in providing fast starts while Devon Conway is the designated anchor. Kane Williamson's return to form is great news for them while Glenn Phillips has been terrific so far. But the lower middle order and the batting unit as a whole is vulnerable to fast bowling. The pace attack of Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson has done well along with spin duo of Mitch Santner and Ish Sodhi.
Pakistan have a strong bowling line-up that can cause serious issues to New Zealand. The pace attack has Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf, Naseem Shah and Mohammad Wasim jr. Shaheen has slowly returned to his best and that will be a huge boost heading into the knockouts. The two spinners Shadab Khan and Mohammad Nawaz have done a solid job. The batting unit has gone the complete opposite way compared to the last couple of years. The opening duo has struggled to get runs while the middle order of Iftikhar Ahmed, Shan Masood, Mohammad Haris and Shadab Khan has rescued them in this tournament.
Shadab Khan has become one of the most valuable T20 players in the world. The all-rounder has been sensational in the tournament, making an impact with bat and ball. The leg-spinner has bagged 10 wickets in the last four group matches at an economy of just 6.22. Shadab also smashed 52 off just 22 against South Africa. At a venue like Sydney, Shadab could play a huge role.
Kane Williamson struggled badly in the shorter format in the last 11 months but showed some good signs in the last two games. The New Zealand skipper smashed 61 off 35 balls against Ireland. He perhaps has the best game to tackle the fast bowling attack of Pakistan, making him a key player in this clash.
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Rohit is a cricket enthusiast striving to convey the finer details of the game in a capsule. He hopes to present a bird's eye view of the game, as he sees it, to the readers. He is smitten by the likes of ABD but crushes on pace bowlers who can make the ball talk. Email: [email protected]More info on Rohit Sankar
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