The T20 cricket World Cup is in full flow, this week marks the end of the Super 12 phase of the tournament and the start of the knockouts. The four semi-final teams have been decided: England, Australia, Pakistan and New Zealand.
The first semi-final will see England face New Zealand, a repeat of the 2019 World Cup final, in Abu Dhabi.
The other semi-final is Pakistan, who are the only team to remain unbeaten through the Super 12s, playing Australia, who sneaked through on net run rate from their group, in Dubai.
The fear, amongst some fans, that the pitches might make for some attritional cricket has been proved incorrect. However, the games have overall tended to be one-sided and there hasn’t been any major shocks.
The real surprise has been India failing to qualify for the knockouts. This is meant to be a home tournament for them and despite the change of location to the United Arab Emirates, they still have a very strong squad but we’re unable to get the results they needed. Pakistan and New Zealand, who qualified from their group, simply played smarter and more consistent cricket over the five games. This sees an end to Virat Kohli’s captaincy in T20s and Ravi Shastri’s time as coach, who will be replaced by Rahul Dravid.
Another disappointment was the West Indies, who saw their tournament fall flat with just one victory. It signifies the conclusion of a great West Indies squad, who won two World Cups in five years and were pioneers for six hitting relocation in T20 cricket. It appeared to be the last time we’ll see two greats of the format, Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo, wear the maroon of the West Indies in a World Cup. Chris Gayle is arguably the greatest ever batsman to play T20s, he has a staggering 22 hundreds in the format. Bravo is one of the greats as well, says he’ll build on his 553 T20 wickets by playing a “few more years of franchise tournaments” but his international career is over. The West Indies will now hope young players like Nicolas Pooran, Shimron Hetmyer and Fabian Allen can take this team forward and be inspired by the iconic side that came before them.
The absence of any real shock results will worry the International Cricket Council (ICC), the gap between cricketing nations is getting dangerously large. The result of the toss seems to be having too much of an impact on the games as well, a large majority of victories came from sides batting second. This will all be things to ponder for the ICC who have another T20 World Cup to host in Australia next year and a 50 over tournament in 2023 in which we might see changes to try to restore some uncertainty to the results.
The semi-finals will be fascinating, Pakistan and England will undoubtedly be favourites to make the final but there’s nothing more unpredictable than knockout cricket.