The final battle

November 13, 2022

Pakistan have peaked at the right time and so have England

The final battle

The final of the T20 World Cup 2022 between Pakistan and England is being played at Melbourne Cricket Ground today, thirty years after Pakistan beat England at the MCG to win the ODI World Cup. Both teams qualified for the final after beating their rivals in the semi-finals comprehensively.

If England won today's final, they would become the first team to hold both T20 and 50-over World Cup titles.

In the first semi-final, Pakistan beat favourites New Zealand convincingly by seven wickets. Shaheen Afridi (2-24) led the way in restricting New Zealand to 152-4 and then Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan's 105-run opening stand took the game away from the Kiwis.

Before the semi-final, everyone had questions about the opening pair who were not at their best in the tournament. The pair became the first one to produce three century partnerships in the ICC T20 World Cup. Overall it was Babar-Rizwan duo's 9th century partnership in the shortest format. Their last 100-run partnership came against England in the home series.

Babar and Rizwan have become the first pair to jointly score 2,500 runs.

In the league matches, Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan had produced opening stands of 1, 13, 16, 4 and 57. Babar had been dismissed for single-digit scores each time. But fortunately the middle order, especially Iftikhar Ahmed and Shadab Khan, showed big-hitting abilities in crucial moments in the league matches.

In the second semi-final at Adelaide, England humiliated India by 10 wickets. Openers skipper Jos Buttler and Alex Hales in a record unbroken opening partnership of 169 in just 16 overs chased the target to storm into the final.

Both openers went on the charge against the Indian bowlers right from the beginning of their innings and didn't leave any chance for the Indian bowlers to save the game.

Earlier, after electing to bowl, the England bowlers made run-scoring difficult for the famed Indian batting. The top order managed only 62-2 in the powerplay while England's openers scored 98 without loss.

The English team started the semi-final without their leading fast bowler Mark Wood and key batter Dawid Malan due to injuries, but the experienced fast bowler Chris Jordan made his selection right by taking three wickets in his quota of four overs.

Pakistan and England finished second from their respective groups in the Super 12s and their chances of securing a semi-final spot at one stage looked very unlikely. But both sides made a terrific comeback.

As happened many times in the past, Pakistan got a lifeline when South Africa were surprisingly beaten by the Netherlands. Greenshirts were almost out of the world cup after defeats against India and Zimbabwe in the Super 12 stage, but Netherlands knocked South Africa out of the T20 World Cup with a stunning 13-run win.

It was not the first time when Protease choked in the ICC tournament when they were close to their target. Most of the times, the pre-tournament favourites, South Africa are yet to reach the final of a World Cup event.

South Africa just needed a win against the Netherlands to qualify for the semi-final, and they were certainly the favorites to do so. The shocking loss extended South Africa's World Cup misery. In the 50-over format, the four-time semi-finalists have never reached a final. They have also lost at the semi-final stage at the T20 World Cup in 2009 and 2014.

Hosts and the defending champion Australia also failed to qualify for the semi-final on their home ground as England beat Sri Lanka to reach the semifinals in the last league match. Aussies had entered the tournament with the confidence of becoming the first team to win two consecutive T20 World Cups.

But a big defeat against New Zealand and a washout against England shattered their dreams. Later in the three wins the defending champions also failed to fire enough with the bat to increase run rate.

The host nation has never won the ICC Men's T20 World Cup. No team has won consecutive ICC Men's T20 World Cup titles and the defending champion has never made the final of the next ICC Men's T20 World Cup.

Pakistan have gone through to the final for the first time since 2009 when they lifted the trophy, which was also the last time they won any T20I tournament.

Pakistan's campaign began with a heartbreaking loss to India at Melbourne Cricket Ground. They were bamboozled in their very next match as underdogs Zimbabwe thumped them too. But the Babar Azam-led side turned their fortunes around by winning the rest of their matches, including a rain-affected triumph against South Africa.

Now the Green-shirts have to repeat the 1992 performance and lift the cup. Openers have found form and the middle order has started performing. Shaheen Afridi has got rhythm and other bowlers are not giving chances to batsmen to score freely.

But on the other hand, England team is also in full swing. Their one-sided win in the semi-final also gave them confidence for the high-profile final.

The final battle