In the Men’s T20 World Cup semi-final on Thursday in Dubai, Australia will meet an unbeaten Pakistan in a bid to win the only trophy that has escaped them.
Aaron Finch’s team was not one of the favourites before the competition, but they won four of their five Super 12 games to get to the final four. Pakistan began their campaign with a 10-wicket hammering of their arch-rivals India, and have progressed steadily since then.
In the final on Sunday, the winners will face either England or New Zealand, who will clash in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. Australia have won the Champions Trophy twice and the 50-over World Cup three times, but their greatest performance in the T20 World Cup was finishing second to England in 2010.
In the build-up to this event, they had lost five T20 series in a row, including a series against Bangladesh in which they were bowled out for 62, their lowest T20 score. Their sole setback came against a powerful England in the group stages, and they finished their qualification campaign with an eight-wicket thumping of the West Indies.
Former Australia opening partner Matthew Hayden, who is now Pakistan’s batting coach, will face off against Australia coach Justin Langer. Between 2001 and 2007, they combined for 5,655 runs in 113 Tests at the top of the order for Australia.
“I was a warrior for Australian cricket for two decades, so I have amazing insights into these individuals and the culture of cricket in the country,” Hayden explained.
This is one award that has never been shown in the trophy case.
Pakistan has never won a T20 World Cup, although they have undoubtedly been the most outstanding team in reaching the semi-finals. With 264 runs, captain Babar Azam leads the tournament, while Shaheen Shah Afridi has excelled with his raw pace, claiming six wickets at 22.33 each.