Watson runs eye over T20 World Cup semi-finals

With surprises at almost every turn so far, Shane Watson is worried about the uncertainty that comes with two ICC Men’s T20 World Cup semi-finals in Australia.

From Namibia’s win over Sri Lanka on the opening day of the match, to Pakistan’s miraculous late semi-final comeback, form guides were thrown out the window, with little to divide the remaining four teams.

New Zealand will take on Pakistan in Sydney on Wednesday, while India will face England at the Adelaide Oval on Thursday. The winners will then meet at the MCG on Sunday, likely in front of a capacity crowd.

Before looking at the form of the remaining four teams, Watson praised the quality of cricket so far in the event, capping off the competition’s underdogs, who played their part in making the tournament entertaining.

“The upsets – the lower-tier nations upsetting the big teams – it was something nobody really expected,” Watson said.

“It means that everyone has their eyes on every game. You just can’t think it’s going to be a game that’s easily won so it’s been a really great T20 World Cup to be a part of.”

T20 World Cup has been quite a roller coaster for Pakistani fans. Last-ball heartbreakers for both India and Zimbabwe, their team rallied to beat the Netherlands and South Africa, before nervously awaiting other results on the final day of Super 12 action.

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The Dutch gave Pakistan a lifeline by defeating South Africa, before Babar Azam’s men capitalized on an unlikely chance to advance by sweeping Bangladesh.

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After making it to the final four, Pakistan have almost nothing to lose in the eyes of the Australian all-rounder, who is pleading with the team to prove itself in the latter stages of the tournament.

“There are times in all tournaments where a team just gets over the line, somehow gets to the final, and then goes on to win it, especially when they play the way they do. “We weren’t expecting to make it to the semifinals because of that. At certain times throughout this tournament,” Watson said.

“The freedom they’re going to have because they weren’t expecting much in the middle of the tournament, the freedom they’re going to have will be very dangerous for the Kiwis.”

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Standing in Pakistan’s way is New Zealand, who put the hosts’ title defense into a spin by overpowering Australia in the opening Super 12 match of the tournament.

Opener Finn Allen, who stunned Australia with an upfront blitz at the SCG, is Watson’s key Kiwi.

“Fin Allen has been an absolute standout for them,” noted Watson.

“What he’s been able to do in the powerplay, taking on the best bowlers in the world, he’s really given New Zealand an edge to be able to play alongside him.

“They’ve got world-class players around their team, but Finn Allen has really been the only X-factor that’s really helped them. It will be interesting to see him here in Sydney against the Pakistani pacers. .

In Adelaide, an Indian team, with depth built through the domestic scene, could overtake England for the favourites’ tag.

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Having rubbed shoulders with many of the current crop during the IPL circuit, Watson believes finding the right 11 players to put on the team sheet is perhaps India’s biggest challenge.

“You can see the depth is growing and growing and finally. India could play another team of world-class players who are sitting at home right now. They still have the skills to come in and make their mark. Waiting to be able to raise hands,” he said.

“It’s worrying for other countries, knowing that they have another team sitting at home, at least one more team sitting at home that can shake this World Cup as well.”

One thing in England’s favor is the recent result between the teams although Jos Buttler’s men were defending 215 at Trent Bridge in July.

Watson believes that England are a tough proposition in semi-final cricket, and that India would like to face another opponent.

“India would certainly have preferred to play someone else in this semi-final in Adelaide because they know England have got a world-class team and have a good record against them,” added Watson.

“They are going to be two great games of cricket, there’s no question about that.”


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