New Zealand makes a regular appearance in many semi-finals in several international tournaments. Pakistan though is an unlikely contender this late in the journey of the 2022 T20 World Cup. After losing an utterly ludicrous game against India, they were sufficiently worn out to lose to Zimbabwe by one run. Pakistan is still present, shockingly alive and well, and in the semifinals. How did this happen?
Because South Africa is notorious for being unable to prevail when it counts, regardless of if their opponents were a group of garden gnomes. The Pakistanis’ poor performance against the Netherlands on Sunday in Adelaide unlocked a door that had previously been shut in their faces.
Or perhaps there was some sort of supernatural intervention, as Matthew Hayden speculated on Tuesday, “There were lots of prayers as Pakistan woke up to see [the Netherlands’ 13-run win]; 232-million people can’t be wrong.”
Then, all Pakistan needed to do was defeat Bangladesh in Sunday’s second game in Adelaide in order to gain the right to play New Zealand at the SCG on Wednesday. They did so with a level of assurance that should make the rest of their opponents nervous. That as well as them cancelling their training session on Tuesday. Babar Azam’s men have asserted their capabilities.
But that won’t make New Zealand cower. Particularly considering that their big brothers, the one team that tends to soften their sharpness, are all up a blue gum without a picnic basket: Australia is one of the tournament’s group stage exits. That gives New Zealand’s inventiveness and fortitude freedom to breathe.
This contest, which is stripped to its essence, puts Pakistan’s fervour against New Zealand’s wit. The Kiwis are skilled surfers, but the Pakistanis are a mounting tide. To watch which of them gets it to the shore unharmed, the SCG is as excellent a coastline as any.