“Throughout the round-robin, we’ve played nicely. Today we weren’t at our best. Having said that, we know the fickle nature of T20 cricket,” those were the words of a crestfallen New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson in the post-match presentation as New Zealand bowed out of the ICC T20 World Cup 2022.
The fickle nature of the format pushed Pakistan to the brink of an undignified ouster as they lost two cliffhangers against arch-rivals India and Zimbabwe and also scripted their entry into the semis.
New Zealand were totally outplayed by the Babar Azam-led side after they won the toss and chose to bat on a Sydney wicket that was expected to get slower in the second innings. But Pakistan had their plans in place and were prepared for unforeseen circumstances.
Shaheen Afridi despite getting thumped down the ground on the first delivery of the match, kept his length fuller and reaped the rewards of being valiant. He trapped Finn Allen in front of the stumps while the latter missed the line completely.
Pakistan also had their plans in place for New Zealand’s other potent threat – Glenn Phillips. Cognizant of Phillips’ liking for pace, Babar asked both his ace spinners to operate in tandem from both ends and deprived him of pace. The plan paid dividends as Mohammad Nawaz sent Phillips packing at an individual score of six.
Even at the death, the Pakistan pacers were spot on with their planning and execution as they bowled slower ones into the wicket and also nailed yorkers with aplomb. The two biggest positives that emerged out of the semi-final clash for Pakistan are Shaheen Shah Afridi looking close to his personal best and the opening duo getting back in its elements.
The trio of Shaheen, Shadab Khan and Mohammad Wasim have been exceptional in terms of their bowling economy and have conceded less than seven runs per over in this World Cup. With Haris Rauf cranking up his pace and the venue for the final being Melbourne aiding the seamers a lot, one can expect the Pakistan fast bowlers to reign supreme.
On the other hand, England, who were deemed one of the favourites right from the outset have finally found the touch they were after. During the Super 12 stage, Jos Buttler’s England never really looked convincing. But they were clinical in the semi-finals when it mattered the most. A disciplined bowling attack ensured that India never really managed to break the shackles upfront and a spotless showing by both openers sealed the deal for them.
England have an upper hand over Pakistan in T20Is, which will give Buttler and company a psychological boost ahead of the summit clash. Both teams have squared off against each other in 28 T20Is. England have won 18 out of those games while Pakistan have only emerged victorious in nine matches (one was a no-result). In T20 World Cups both teams have met twice and England won both games without breaking a sweat.
The Melbourne Cricket Ground has played host to 21 T20Is but only 17 of those have yielded results. MCG seems to be a happy hunting ground for the team chasing the total. Out of the 17 games that have produced results, ten games have been won by the team batting second. The wicket at the MCG is traditionally known for assisting batters but the same has not been there for everyone to see in the ongoing World Cup.
The wicket at the ‘G’ has produced searing pace and carry for pacers who have bent their backs and has also offered swing upfront with the new ball. Since both teams have some gun-fast bowlers, it would be interesting to see that how the batters will cope up with the challenge.
Playing Combinations for PAK vs ENG
The good news for Pakistan is that all their players are fit and ready to go ahead of the summit clash. Their skipper who was experiencing a slump in terms of his batting form also scored runs in the semis and will be leading his troops for the first time in the final of an ICC event.
Predicted Playing XI: Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Haris, Shan Masood, Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Wasim, Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf, Shaheen Afridi
England are plagued with injuries. Both Dawid Malan and Mark Wood missed out in the semis and are currently in a race against time to regain their fitness before the finals. If Wood regains his fitness then he won’t only add venom to England’s pace attack but will also be seen breathing down the neck of Pakistan batters because of their inability to handle steam.
Predicted Playing XI: Jos Buttler (c & wk), Alex Hales, Philip Salt, Ben Stokes, Harry Brook, Liam Livingstone, Moeen Ali, Sam Curran, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, Adil Rashid
PAK vs ENG Head-to-Head
Played- 28 | England- 18 | Pakistan – 9 | NR – 1
PAK vs ENG Broadcast & Live Streaming Details
Pakistan vs England, Final, T20 World Cup 2022
Match Timings- 1:30 PM IST
TV- Star Sports
Live Streaming- Disney+ Hotstar