The second semi-final of the ICC’s T20 World Cup will be played today (Thursday) in Dubai where Pakistan and Australia will struggle to get through to the final with New Zealand.

The match will begin at 7pm PST at the Dubai International Stadium.

All-rounder Shoaib Malik and Mohammed Rizwan have reportedly caught the flu and they did not take part in yesterday’s practice session. Sources said Sarfaraz Ahmed and Haider Ali might replace the in-form batters. 

However, their participation is still on the cards as they will undergo a medical check-up before the match. Earlier, their COVID-19 test came back negative, according to Ibrahim Badees, the media manager of the Pakistan cricket team. He, however, said the doctor has advised the two players to take rest.

Former skipper Sarfaraz was seen practising during the last practice session.

PCB chief encourages players to perform well

Showering praise on the national cricketers and skipper Babar Azam, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Ramiz Raja said that the captain did not need to do anything new in the semi-final, as the team is playing quite well with a good combination. 

“You just have to fine-tune yourself to give the message to the world that we are the world’s best team,” he added.

The PCB boss called upon the cricketers to give their best without being nervous about anything. Addressing Babar Azam, Ramiz said, “You are a world-class batsman, a great captain. You have put in a lot of hard work. You have all the good wishes from your fans from around Pakistan.”

Ramiz Raja stressed that an attitude of humbleness which the team has adopted will win them difficult matches. 

Babar hopes team will continue momentum

In a virtual press conference a day earlier, Babar Azam said he was confident that the Men in Green will maintain the momentum and perform well against Australia in the semi-final.

Some minor flaws have been pointed out in all the matches which sometimes relate to batting and sometimes bowling, Babar said.

He said sometimes fielding lapses were also noted. “It is good that we are trying to fix these issues,” he said.

Babar Azam and Shaheen Afridi are vital for Pakistan’s win

Pakistan cricket team’s batting consultant Matthew Hayden lavished praise on Babar Azam and bowler Shaheen Afridi, saying, “The Pakistan cricket team can play good cricket against any team in the world.”

Hayden said Babar Azam has been scoring runs consistently and unlike India’s Virat Kohli, Babar has a very good temperament, as he does not demonstrate aggression all the time.

Left-arm fast bowler Shaheen Afridi has the ability to destroy any team’s batting line-up, he said.

Hayden warned that Australia would not be an easy target, as they have an impressive record when it comes to playing in world cups.

Pakistan vs Australia – an overview

The Pakistan team has been unbeaten in 16 consecutive matches on UAE soil as the Green Shirts have not lost even a single T20 here since 2016. But, this time around, it is a knockout match of the ICC World Cup given the fact that Pakistan does not have an enviable record against the Kangaroos in the ICC event’s knock-out contests.

Both Pakistan and Australia have locked horns with each other in knockout matches of ICC events in any format four times before. And, it was Australia that got the better of Pakistan in the 1987 World Cup semi-finals, the 1999 World Cup final, the 2010 T20 World Cup final and the 2015 World Cup quarter-finals.

Both teams have clashed 17 times in ICC events; of them, Australia won 10 times and Pakistan seven times. Six of these matches were for the T20 World Cup and both teams won three times each.

Pakistan and Australia both played a total of 23 T20 matches, with Pakistan winning 13 of them and Australia nine others. Eight of these matches were played on UAE soil. Of them, Pakistan won six matches.

It is also worth mentioning here that Pakistan defeated Australia in the final of the Austral Asia Cup in 1990 in the UAE.

Last encounter

In their last encounter on November 8, 2019, in Perth, Australia routed Pakistan by 10 wickets with 49 balls to spare to clinch the T20 series 2-0.

After restricting the visitors to 106 for eight, openers Aaron Finch (52) and David Warner (48) put Pakistan to the sword.

Australia won the second match in Canberra by seven wickets with the first game in Sydney abandoned due to rain.

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