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A lot has changed from the 2021 to 2022 T20 World Cup for Pakistan. The wounds of losing last year’s semi-final to Australia are still fresh. If Pakistan roar as a team, they can better their 2021 showing and storm into their third final.
Can Pakistan win their second T20 World Cup in Australia? (Courtesy: AP)
By Priya Nagi: Two roads diverged from the 2021 to 2022 T20 World Cup but Pakistan surprised itself to reach the same stop – semi-finals – for a second successive time.
A lot has changed for the Babar Azam-led Pakistan from 2021 to 2022, but what matters the most for Pakistan is to better their last year’s result and reach the T20 World Cup final.
Pakistan, who will be making their record sixth appearance in the semi-finals, was the only unbeaten side in the group stage during the 2021 T20 World Cup. The condition of the Men in Green in the group stage completely changed in the ongoing tournament.
Babar’s men were hit by a double blow at the start of their 2022 campaign, losing to arch-rivals India and 11th-ranked T20I team Zimbabwe. The twin defeats landed Pakistan in a precarious situation, wherein their fate was no longer in their hands, unlike in 2021 when they commanded their path.
Fighting against all odds, including the outside noise dominated by their former greats, Pakistan roared back and defeated the Netherlands and South Africa to keep their hopes of reaching the semi-finals alive, at least mathematically. Pakistan found its mojo just in time when critics and fans started to write them off.
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PAKISTAN GET LIFELINE
Shadab Khan kicked in the positive vibes in the team as his spell of 3/22 highlighted Pakistan’s six-wicket win over Netherlands. He carried his momentum, this time with the bat (52 off 22), alongside Iftikhar Ahmed (51 off 35) and Shaheen Shah Afridi (3/14), to help Pakistan beat South Africa by 33 runs (D/L method).
South Africa’s defeat meant they had to beat the Netherlands to reach the semi-finals and knock out Pakistan. Although the Proteas were considered favourites to beat the Dutch side, South Africa choked in front of a spirited Netherlands by 13 runs. The outcome in Adelaide gave a ray of hope to Pakistan and they did not disappoint.
Pakistan got the better of their Asian compatriots Bangladesh with a five-wicket win and joined India from Group 2 in the semi-finals. Afridi, who started to show glimpses of attaining full match fitness since suffering a knee injury, returned with his career-best T20I figures (4/22) before Mohammad Haris (31 off 18) and Shan Masood (24* off 14) ensured vibrant smiles on the faces of their fans in the end.
TIME TO AMEND MISTAKES?
However, Pakistan knows the job is not over yet. Certain loopholes, including captain Babar’s form and Mohammad Rizwan’s underperformance, need to be addressed. Babar, who was the top run scorer (303 runs in 6 matches) during the 2021 T20 World Cup, scored only 39 runs in five matches in the 2022 event. Although he is aware that a lot depends on his batting, Babar is not doing much to amend his mistakes.
He had an opportunity to change the opening pair by sending in someone else ahead of him, but he opted not to do so. While it is unlikely to see a last-minute change in the knockout match, Babar needs to take a leaf out of his last year’s performance and stand up for Pakistan, otherwise, it will put pressure on the inconsistent middle order.
Fortune has favoured Pakistan and helped them to reach the semi-finals, but now it is time for Pakistan to come out as a team and earn a spot in the finals. Can Pakistan beat Bukkry.com”>New Zealand and reach its third T20 World Cup final? Well, at least the head-to-head record between the two sides gives an upper hand to Pakistan, who have won 17 of their 28 T20Is against Bukkry.com”>New Zealand.
The wounds of losing to Australia during the 2021 T20 World Cup semi-finals are still fresh, but if Pakistan believes in themselves, then they could turn the 1992 coincidence into a reality.