As his team faces a formidable England in the T20 World Cup final on Sunday, a determined Babar Azam will be looking to earn his place next to the legendary Imran Khan in Pakistan cricket’s Hall of Fame. Since they had suffered morale-deflating losses to their archrivals India and Zimbabwe in the first week of the competition, the 2009 winners’ entry into the final may even rival a Hollywood thriller storyline. With a victory over South Africa and a plea for divine intervention in the second week of a tournament, Pakistan heightened expectations of a stunning comeback.
History Favours Pakistan, Form Is With England
Similar to 1992, a miracle occurred when the Netherlands stunned South Africa with a performance to remember, and out of nowhere, Pakistan was back in the running for a semifinal spot.
The semifinal performance against a well-rounded New Zealand side demonstrated that the “Green Machines” are unmatched when it comes to playing edge-of-your-seat “Russian Roulette,” contrary to what some critics claim.
However, the core of this current English side also had a date with history on this very Australian land, and everyone wants a piece of Babar’s team from 1992.
This was the nation where England’s white-ball cricket was in ruins seven years prior in 2015 after Bangladesh eliminated them from the championship at the group stage.
The English players’ thinking and intent underwent a radical shift as a result of the ECB‘s horses-for-courses strategy, which was the beginning of the white ball cricket transition. This reckless attitude was clearly on exhibit on Thursday when facing India.
To defeat players like Jos Buttler, Alex Hales, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridis, Mohammed Wasim Jr., and the Harris Rauf’s will require much more than simply inspiration.
These are all highly sought-after T20 cricket players, and they can all silence the 80,000 or so Pakistani supporters, just as they largely silenced the 42,000 Indian supporters in Adelaide.
When Buttler is batting, can Afridi pull a Wasim Akram, or can Babar and Rizwan push the pace of the game in their own way, much as Imran Khan and Javed Miandad did in that 1992 championship game?
Stokes, for one, wouldn’t mind repeating his 2019 Lord’s performance to take home the trophy. Big matches often put big performers in the spotlight.
Rain is expected to interfere with the final on both Sunday and the reserve day, which is Monday, according to the weather forecast.
The event technical committee has preserved provisions for a minimum of 10-overs a side match with a possible early start on reserve day (3 pm Melbourne time), unlike a typical T20 game which might be a minimum five-over contest.
Mark Wood’s presence might have been beneficial on a hot deck like the MCG, but the tearaway quick’s back isn’t holding up very well.
Chris Jordan is a good T20 bowler in his own right, despite getting hammered by Hardik Pandya, and he wants to exploit his wealth of BBL experience to dominate the Pakistani batsmen.
In the face of Pakistan’s batting lineup of Rizwan, Babar, Shan Masood, Mohammed Haris, and Iftikhar Ahmed, England with Hales, Buttler, Stokes, Phil Salt (in lieu of Dawid Malan), Harry Brook, Moeen Ali, and Liam Livingstone appears to be the more formidable team.
But on crucial occasions, it’s not just the players’ names that matter; it’s also their attitude and temperament for the long haul.