Pakistan and England will be gearing up for the 2022 ICC T20 World Cup final on Sunday at the MCG. Pakistan are in their third final, having lost one and won one so far. England, too are in their third final, having a 1-1 record. Whoever wins the match will equal West Indies’ record of two World Cup wins in the 20-over format. Both sides have plenty of promising names in their squad. And how both teams dictated the show in the semis, it’s safe to say a cracking contest awaits fans around the globe. Ahead of a crunch battle, we present the key player battles.
Jos Buttler vs Shaheen Afridi
Shaheen Afridi has been Pakistan’s joint-leading wicket-taker in the tournament with 10 scalps so far alongside Shadab Khan (ER: 6.17). Shaheen will want to dictate the show in the powerplay overs with his raw pace and swing. And stopping the aggressive Jos Buttler will be quite a task. If he can get Buttler early, England could get exposed. Buttler smashed a match-winning 80* in his last outing versus India in the semis. As per ESPNcricinfo, Buttler carries a strike rate of 154.82 against left-arm pacers in T20Is. But he has also been dismissed 10 times in 32 innings against the left-arm pacers.
Alex Hales vs Haris Rauf
Alex Hales and Haris Rauf would aim to get better off each other in conditions they are accustomed to. Hales has been a top-notch customer since returning to the England side. He smashed an 86*-run knock versus India in the semis. Rauf has also bowled well, not giving anything much away. He has so far scalped six wickets in the tournament (ER: 7.04). Rauf’s pace and intelligence could test Hales. Hales, who is England’s leading run-getter in the competition with 211 runs, has seen Rauf dismiss him twice in five T20 meetings.
Ben Stokes vs Shadab Khan
Pakistan spinner Shadab Khan has impressed a lot in the tournament, having scalped 10 wickets (ER: 6.59). He is on the verge of becoming Pakistan’s leading wicket-taker by surpassing Shahid Afridi. A key role for Stokes will be to keep Ben Stokes quiet in the middle. The southpaw has not been at his best with the bat of late, having managed to score a paltry 58 runs in the ongoing tournament (SR: 105.45). Notably, Stokes has been dismissed by leg-spinners five times in 11 T20I innings.
Iftikhar Ahmed vs Adil Rashid
Adil Rashid has taken two wickets in the competition, but his economy rate reads 6.25. He was lethal versus India and looked like getting more scalps, keeping the batters guessing all along. Rashid has bundles of experience in the format and will be eager to outsmart Ifthikar Ahmed. The middle-order batsman has managed a total of 114 runs at a strike rate of 131.03 in the tournament. Interestingly, Iftikhar has a strike rate of 141.86 against leg-spinners in T20Is.
Babar Azam vs Sam Curran
After a string of low scores, Babar Azam found his mojo back versus New Zealand in the semi-final. He scored a match-winning fifty for his side, sharing a quality century-plus stand alongside Mohammad Rizwan. And now versus England, Babar will aim to replicate his heroics. England’s Sam Curran will stand in Babar’s way. The England pacer has so far scalped 10 wickets in five games (ER: 7.28). He has used his variations well and will want to keep things tight. Babar has a strike rate of 141.46 against left-arm pacers in T20Is. However, he has fared well versus Curran, scoring 42 runs off 30 balls without being dismissed.