In the 1st Semi-Final of the T20 World Cup 2022, New Zealand will face Pakistan at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG). In the Super 12 round, the Kiwis topped Group 1 with seven points. They won three of their five games, lost one, and abandoned their match against Afghanistan due to rain.
Defending champions Australia were beaten by 89 runs by New Zealand in their opening match of the T20 World Cup 2022. A 65-run victory over Sri Lanka followed. However, Kane Williamson and Co. lost to England by 20 runs before beating Ireland by 35 runs to qualify for the semi-finals.
Kiwis have reached the semifinals of ICC events on a regular basis, so it is no surprise to see them there once again. Can they reach their second consecutive T20 World Cup final?
New Zealand has the upper hand over Pakistan going into the first semi-final for three reasons.
1 Versatile bowling line-up against unpredictable batting
Among all the teams competing in the T20 World Cup 2022, New Zealand has perhaps the most versatile bowling line-up. Trent Boult and Tim Southee are among the best opening bowling pairs in world cricket. The Kiwis also have Lockie Ferguson, whose pace can blow opponents away on certain days.
They have good spin options with left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner and leg-spinner Ish Sodhi. Regardless of the surface, both players are capable of making an impact with their skills. The good news for New Zealand is that all five bowlers have made their mark at some point or another during the current World Cup.
Pakistan’s batting line-up has struggled throughout the tournament, which will give New Zealand’s bowlers greater confidence. Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan, their lynchpins, have struggled.
The Kiwis could put pressure on the middle order if they dislodge the openers early.
2 In-form batting department
As well as their strong bowling line-up, their batters have also been impressive. In four matches, Phillips has scored 195 runs at an average of 48.75 and a strike rate of 163.87. Against Sri Lanka, he scored a century before hitting 62 off 36 balls against England. Pakistan could be in trouble if he gets going again.
However, Phillips has not been New Zealand’s only batting star. A masterstroke was made by selecting Finn Allen ahead of veteran Martin Guptill in the playing XI. At the top of the order, the flamboyant batter has played a few game-defining innings. He will also be hoped to perform well against Pakistan.
In addition to Williamson’s form, New Zealand received a major boost ahead of the semis. As a result of his run-a-ball 40 in the team’s loss to England, the right-handed batter was under the pump. In the must-win Super 12 game against Ireland, he responded with 61 off 35.
From the team’s perspective, Williamson’s knock couldn’t have come at a better time. After a great start, Devon Conway may have also lost some rhythm. On the big day, he can also be expected to step up his game.
3 New Zealand are a well-settled outfit
A key aspect of New Zealand’s performance in the T20 World Cup 2022 has been their clinical approach. The importance of consistency across all departments of the game is enormous in a tournament like this, where even one loss can turn fortunes the wrong way (ask South Africa). In this regard, the Kiwis have checked most of the boxes.
Except for the match against England, when they lost to an inspired opponent, New Zealand has been at their best. The T20 World Cup 2022 began with an unexpected thumping of the Aussies.
It was another methodical win over Sri Lanka and, after a hiccup against England, they recovered quickly.
The Kiwis also have a big advantage in that most of the players who participated in last year’s successful T20 World Cup campaign are still playing.
Having done it before will definitely give the team confidence.
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