Pakistan need one more win to continue a remarkable unbeaten run and reach the final of the 2021 T20 Men’s World Cup. Captain Babar Azam’s side weren’t fancied when the tournament began, but the nation has defied expectations after opening with a maiden T20 World Cup win over rivals India.
Thursday’s opponents Australia haven’t been as proficient, but this is still a squad loaded with experience and match-winners at this level. David Warner will lead the way with the bat, while Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood are the cornerstones of a bowling attack defined by pace. Victory at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium would put Australia into Sunday’s final for a game with New Zealand, after the Black Caps shocked England by five wickets on Wednesday.
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In the United States, the match (9 a.m. ET start time) isn’t on TV, but anyone in the US can watch Pakistan vs Australia live on ESPN+ right here:
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Or, if you also want Disney+ and Hulu, you can get all three for $13.99 per month. Separately, the three streaming services would cost a total $20.97 per month, so you’re saving about 33 percent:
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Pakistan vs Australia Preview
Australia skipper Aaron Finch needs to find an answer for Pakistan’s varied bowling attack. Shaheen Afridi is the star of the group, a left-armed pacer who has claimed six wickets during the competition. Afridi was exceptional during the 72-run victory over Scotland that earned Pakistan a place in the last four. The 21-year-old chucked 12 dots through four overs and took the wicket of Michael Leask.
Afridi is making his mark, but there’s plenty of other talent able to attack the wicket. Haris Rauf has taken eight wickets en route to the semi-final. Then there’s Shadab Khan, a useful leg-break specialist who brings some spin to the attack. Strength in depth with the ball is why former England international Michael Atherton is predicting a Pakistan win:
Australia can withstand an onslaught from Afridi and Co. if Warner is on form. He’s leading the team with 187 runs, averaging 46.75 across five overs, per the tournament’s official website. His best moment came against the Windies, when Warner’s 89 not out helped Australia win by eight wickets. Warner will also rely on Finch to do his bit as part of an opening partnership key to Australia’s chances of reaching the final.
Those chances will be boosted if Glenn Maxwell and Steve Smith can find the boundary early and often. Both are power hitters, but neither has been particularly consistent or productive at this World Cup. Pakistan’s quality with the ball means Australia will likely need a prolific showing from the middle order.
The Pakistan innings will be strong from the start, thanks to Azam, who trails only Jos Buttler for runs scored. His focus may be diverted by concerns over the status of opening partner Mohammad Rizwan and middle-order slogger Shoaib Malik. They were both held out of Wednesday’s training session because of “mild flu,” according to ESPNcricinfo.
Azam needs Rizwan available because the latter is in peak form this year:
Australia will counter the Pakistan innings with a capable contingent of fast bowlers. Hazlewood has taken eight wickets, while Starc has claimed seven. They are ably supported by all-rounder Pat Cummins, who can also put some speed into his deliveries.
While all three of the pacers can wreck an innings, Finch will rely on Adam Zampa. His leg-break spinners have yielded 11 wickets during the competition. Zampa has the best chance to pitch a few surprises Pakistan will struggle to repel.
Pakistan are the in-form team with all the momentum, but Australia’s resolute bunch possess the mettle and ingenuity to spring an upset and earn the chance to win this trophy for the first time.