The second semi-final of the 2021 T20 World Cup sees Pakistan take on Australia in what should be another captivating contest between two teams that have played out several thrillers in the competition over the years.

We are reaching the business end of the 2021 ICC T20 World Cup and four teams still remain in the hunt for the trophy. Thursday’s second semi-final matches up the sublime Pakistan against the resurgent Australia. Both teams are brimming with quality T20 players. And with a place in the final on the line, the contest between these two teams could be a fascinating one.

Pakistan hardly put a foot wrong en route to the semi-finals, winning all five of their Super 12s games and bulldozing past the likes of India, New Zealand and Afghanistan. The 2009 T20 World Cup champions look to be at their ruthless best at the moment, with players in nearly every department impressing. Pakistan have also won all 16 of the T20Is they have played in the UAE, and their know-how of the pitches could prove to be an advantage with not much to choose from between the two teams going into the game.

In Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan, Pakistan have two of the most in-form openers in cricket. Both batters are in fine form and have already broken multiple records in T20I cricket this year. And their battle against Australia’s frontline pacers could make for a very exciting watch. Pakistan also have a fearsome pace bowling attack which could cause a few problems to Australia’s frail and inconsistent batting order.

Speaking of Australia, not many people expected them to make it out of the group of death and qualify for the semi-finals. But the 5-time 50-over World Cup winners showed great resilience and fight to make it to the last four. They are by no means the favourites going into the game against Pakistan. But if there is one team you cannot discount in knockout matches, it is Australia. The Aussies have a world-class bowling attack, a number of strong batters, as well as players who can change the course of a game in the space of an over.

Aside from the thrashing they suffered at the hands of England, the Aaron Finch-led side have dealt with everything thrown at them with excellent composure. They won four of their five games in the Super 12s stage, beating Bangladesh and the West Indies in convincing fashion to pip South Africa for a spot in the semi-finals.

Players to Watch

The most obvious pick here is Babar Azam, who is one of the classiest batters in world cricket. T20 is often a game of form and confidence, and the Pakistan captain goes into the semi-final having scored fifties in four of Pakistan’s five games so far at the 2021 T20 World Cup. Babar Azam also has an excellent record in T20I cricket against Australia, having struck four 50s against them in just six innings. And his battle against the Aussie quicks could be an intriguing one.

Pakistan’s pace battery has played a big role in their success so far at the T20 World Cup. But their slower bowlers could come to the fore against Australia, who often find it hard to cope against spin. Imad Wasim is one player who could be crucial. The slow left arm bowler has been one of the most economical bowlers at the T20I World Cup so far, and he has a fairly good record against Australia. And he is one player who could cause a lot of damage on Thursday.

Pakistani skipper Babar Azam is the second highest run-scorer at this tournament, batting at an average of 66

Glenn Maxwell has had a fairly quiet tournament so far by his standards. But that is also partially to do with the fact that he hasn’t been needed as much as some might have expected. But he has still done a decent job with the ball in hand when called upon. His all-round abilities could be crucial in a crunch game like this. And if the Big Show comes up with the goods, Australia will fancy their chances of making it to the final.

Josh Hazlewood is enjoying a really good tournament with the ball and has picked up eight wickets so far. His Test match length and accuracy have caused teams a lot of trouble during the Powerplay overs. And it will be interesting to see how he fares against Pakistan’s in-form openers.

Previous Meetings

Pakistan and Australia have faced each other 23 times in T20I cricket. And it is the Men in Green who hold a more favourable record going into the semi-final. They have come out on top on 13 occasions, with Australia winning nine of the games. Australia did come out on top in the last bilateral series between these two sides. But when Pakistan and Australia last met in the UAE, the hosts enjoyed an impressive 3-0 clean sweep.

Pakistan Expected Playing XIs

Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf

Australia Expected Playing XIs

Aaron Finch (c), David Warner, Mitchell Marsh, Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa, Josh Hazlewood