Here are some simple facts about New Zealand. It’s the only side to score 200 points in the 2022 T20 race Globalism Glass. It’s the only team to have two batsmen – Finn Allen and Glenn Phillips – on the top ten hit list of this tournament. It’s the only aspect that has used five players – no more, five specifically – in every outing in this tournament, this last part tells you something, in particular, these New Zealand plans have worked so well in this tournament. Which is a fair distribution among these bowlers – 20 wickets for the three balls, another 14 for the deer. In doing so, none of its economies rose above 7.13.
Indeed, Mitchell Santner (economy 6.43) and Ech Soddy (economy 6.78) had great success in the tournament, which was held mostly in friendly conditions. This bowling attack runs and chases in a pack, cuts the run, and captures those wickets on display. So far, only the English batting team has been able to get on the scale.
Add to that, those hit rates – 189.58 for Allen and 163.86 for Phillips – and somehow it looks like New Zealand was able to improve on their previous World Cup outing. Remember, this is the side that reached two finals in a row in the ICC White Ball Championships, three if the World Test Championship counts. She achieved five consecutive matches in the semi-finals of the White Ball Championship. This is a squad in its prime, and they made a weird rule in the ODI World Cup 2019. Now that they’ve improved, would you bet on them?
Before you start betting, take a look at the other side. She’s wearing green, with her latest shirt representing bolts of lightning. Yes, this is the Pakistan we are talking about. And while their current tournament performance wasn’t really strong, they reached the semi-finals like a thunderbolt out of nowhere. Just like lightning!
You might think that South Africa should be here. You might like to say, by right, having beat one of my favorite tournaments like India after every thing. But how can we think of that after losing to the Netherlands? The shock here seems to say the least, and is probably more valid for Pakistan. It almost seemed as if second place in Group 2 had gone to the side that spoiled his chances the least.
Pakistan, like South Africa, is used to criminality in this regard. Every time she thinks she’s taken the winning title, they hit a roadblock and collapse. Perhaps the best that can be seen is how the title challenge in the UAE was eliminated last year. After defeating India, and winning all group matches in the 2021 T20 World Cup, Pakistan looked to be in pole position for their second title. They even made it to Australia, Matthew Wade, in the semi-finals!
Reflecting on those past few sums where Wade Chahine Afridi taught how to use different angles at the Dubai International Stadium, I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t really meant to be. Last year’s World Cup followed a very ideal scenario for Pakistan, and that was not what it was supposed to be. Because Pakistan cricket thrives on its unpredictable best. Consistency and arithmetic ability are not the passwords when it comes to Pakistani cricket. Better to throw them out the window.
This makes Pakistan extremely dangerous as it heads to the semi-final against New Zealand. She was smashed, almost out of the tournament, teetering on the edge, when South Africa fell in dramatic fashion. The mathematical equation after this massive Dutch win means it could be either Pakistan or Bangladesh. But did Bangladesh really stand a chance in that match?
Usually, you trap an animal and it becomes a fiery beast, fighting to the end either for survival or for victory. With Pakistan, you can take it even further. Shut it down and threaten to throw the switch away, that’s exactly what will reactivate it. It is the perfect underdog instinct, only in the case of Pakistan, it has been confirmed that she is on steroids.
When you’re at the back, fighting for survival, for victory, for title victory, the unpredictable Pakistan is a joy to watch. It allows a sense of freedom – no fear of loss. There is almost acceptance of loss before it comes. Will you allow them to enjoy the victory more? Simply go back to 1992 or 2009; It’s two title-winning campaigns in ODIs and T20Is for reference. Every time Pakistan struggles, its fans can revisit and glorify those victories, evoking a similar passion in the current setting.
Otherwise, how do you determine Pakistan’s victory over South Africa? At 43-4, the light was off his run, before Shadib Khan played the rescue hand and smashed 52 off 22 balls. Let’s say here, he was among the top five most influential players in this tournament. 10 wickets in an economy of 6.22 and a strike rate of 177 when it matters most – on any other occasion, you could say, that’s what winning a title looks like.
However, he is only one of the few bright sparks in that Pakistani line-up. There is also Shaheen Afridi’s revival of the bowling allure, or Muhammad Haris, who suddenly finds himself in the spotlight, or Iftikhar Ahmed, who is quietly doing the hard work in the background. While we marvel at Pakistan’s surprise semi-final entry as one of those unpleasant exciting scenarios, these few players have done the hard writing.
In the face of the professional Black Caps group, Pakistan must be concerned about its weaknesses. Babar Azam and Mohamed Radwan both managed less than 150 in five rounds in between, and a flexible intermediate arrangement doesn’t work well when openers aren’t establishing a base. But can you count on the erratic duo on this day, or follow this erratic scenario, and assume it’s finally the right time in this World Cup?
Perhaps the last sentence would be the best way to set the stage for the semi-final match, then. Consistent, calculating and calm New Zealand side is expected to weather the storm of Pakistan. Easier to say, easier to write, and probably mostly expected, just according to the format and record of this tournament.
Then again, do we really expect the storm to suddenly disappear?