Watson runs eye over T20 World Cup semi-finals

Shane Watson, who has had surprises in almost every innings so far, is keen on the uncertainty surrounding the semi-final of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia.

From Namibia’s opening-day win over Sri Lanka to semi-finalists Pakistan’s remarkable comeback, form guides were thrown out the window and little was done to split the remaining four teams.

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

Before looking at the form of the remaining four teams, Watson applauded the standard of cricket that has graced the tournament so far and paid tribute to the tournament’s underdogs who have played their part in making the tournament entertaining.

“Because the lower-ranked nations upset the bigger teams, which was something nobody wanted,” Watson said.

“It means that everyone’s eyes are on every game. You can’t expect it to be an easy game to win, so it’s been a really great T20 World Cup.”

The T20 World Cup has been amazing for Pakistan fans. Having been bowled out by both India and Zimbabwe in the final, their team beat the Netherlands and South Africa before nervously awaiting other results on the final day of the Super 12 tournament.

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Pakistan were saved by the Dutch defeating South Africa before Babar Azam’s men took advantage of an unlikely opportunity to leave Bangladesh behind.

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Pakistan, who reached the final four, have little to lose in front of the Australian legend and urged his team to express themselves at the end of the tournament.

“There are times in every tournament where a team just gets over the line and somehow gets to the final and then wins, especially when you didn’t expect to get to the semi-finals because of the way you played. At certain times during this tournament,” Watson said.

With not much expected in the middle of the tournament, the freedom they get and the freedom they enjoy will be very dangerous for the Kiwis.

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New Zealand stand in the way of Pakistan, having thrashed Australia in the opening Super 12 match of the tournament to turn the hosts’ title race around.

Watson’s key Kiwi is opener Finn Allen, who stunned Australia with the winning ball at the SCG.

“Finn Allen was special for them,” Watson noted.

“His ability to play against some of the best bowlers in the world in the Powerplay gave New Zealand the advantage of playing as well as they did.

“They have world-class players around the team but Finn Allen has been the X-factor that has really helped them. It will be interesting for him to face a quality Pakistani fast bowler in Sydney.”

An Indian side in Adelaide could be among the favorites to beat England on the strength of a formidable domestic display.

Watson, who has rubbed shoulders with many of the current crop during the IPL circuit, feels India’s biggest challenge will be finding the right XI to field in the team sheet.

“The depth grows and grows and finally you can see. India can now play against a different team of world-class players sitting at home. They’ve got a lot of skills just waiting to come in and put their hands up,” he said.

“It’s a concern for other countries who know that they have another team at home, or at least another team that can shake up this World Cup.”

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

Watson believes that England will find it difficult to play in the semi-finals and that India may have wanted to play a different opponent.

“India would definitely prefer to play someone else in this semi-final in Adelaide because they know they have a world class team in England and they have done well against them,” added Watson.

“They will be two great games of cricket, there’s no doubt about that.”



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