New Zealand will face Pakistan in the first semi-final match of the ongoing ICC T20 World Cup on Wednesday at the SCG. Pakistan changed its fortunes by winning three successive games after losing the first two. With South Africa suffering a loss versus the Netherlands, the entry to the semis became easier for Pakistan, who beat Bangladesh in their final match. As far as the Kiwis are concerned, they topped Group 1, finishing off well versus Ireland. Both sides are well stocked in bowling, which could make the difference in a high-voltage encounter. Ahead of a crunch game, we look at the key player battles.
Shaheen Afridi versus Finn Allen
Shaheen Afridi was back in his element with a four-wicket haul versus Bangladesh in a do-or-die game. Besides getting those yorkers, his ability to purchase swing will be a good sight against an aggressive player like Finn Allen. Afridi must force Allen to play the big shots and catch him off guard. As per ESPNcricinfo, Allen has struggled versus left-arm pacers (men’s T20Is), being dismissed on seven counts. He has an average of 11.85 versus the left-arm pacers in the shortest format.
Tim Southee versus Babar Azam
Tim Southee is the leading wicket-taker in the 20-over format (international cricket). His experience and tenacity make him special. Southee will look to get the early wicket of Pakistan skipper Babar Azam, who has struggled to get going. Babar can be vulnerable to Southee mixing things up. He has an excellent weapon in the form of slower balls. In seven innings (men’s T20Is), Babar has scored just 48 runs against Southee, who has dismissed him twice. Notably, Babar has faced 27 dot balls.
Lockie Ferguson vs Shan Masood
Lockie Ferguson can bring that extra bit with his pace. He bowls some quality short balls, besides the accurate swinging deliveries fuller on the stumps. Someone like Shan Masood will need to be wary. Masood recently found his feet after making his debut in the format for Pakistan. He can play sensibly and score the desired runs. Across 14 innings (men’s T20Is), Masood has piled up 111 runs versus right-arm pacers, being dismissed four times.
Ish Sodhi vs Ifthikar Ahmed
Ish Sodhi is the fourth-highest wicket-taker in men’s T20Is. Sodhi will look to deceive Ifthikar Ahmed if given the opportunity to face him. Ifthikar’s role is to play the big shots coming in as a finisher for his side. If Ifthikar gets exposed early, Sodhi can be all over him in the middle overs. Sodhi has claimed 79 wickets against right-handed batters in men’s T20Is. His success rate makes him a special figure. Versus Ifthikar, Sodhi has bowled just 3 balls, giving away two runs.
Shadab Khan vs Glenn Phillips
Shadab Khan has been Pakistan’s top performer for a while in the 20-over format. With 97 scalps under his belt, Shadab has grown tremendously. Notably, he is also the highest-wicket taker for Pakistan in the ongoing tournament (10). Shadab will have his task cut out against an in-form Glenn Phillips. In fact, Phillips, who is New Zealand’s top scorer in the ongoing World Cup, has managed 63 runs from 37 balls off Shadab, being dismissed once.