Skipper Jos Buttler believes an “incredibly dangerous” England will be hard to beat in Sunday’s ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 final, but Pakistan say they have “all bases covered” – and then there’s the threat of rain.
After 44 matches spanning nearly a month, the Melbourne Cricket Ground will host the deciding game to determine who joins the West Indies as the only two-time winners of the men’s edition since the tournament’s inception in 2007.
Pakistan tasted victory in 2009 when they beat Sri Lanka by eight wickets in the final, while England won it a year later with a seven-wicket win over Australia.
England will be favourites against a Pakistan side who have roared back from losing their first two matches of the tournament.
Rain could though spoil the party with a 100% chance of showers forecast and even severe thunderstorms.
A reserve day has been set aside on Monday but the weather is again expected to be bleak, raising the prospect of a washout and the unthinkable – the trophy being shared.
A minimum of 10 overs per side is needed to constitute a game, compared to five during the group stages. If the match starts on Sunday but isn’t finished, it will resume on Monday from where it was halted.
Organisers on Friday tweaked the rules to give two hours’ extra play on Monday should it be needed to complete the match. Three games at the MCG in the Super 12 stage fell victim to rain with a few other matches also curtailed.
England's road to the final
|Afghanistan||Perth||Won by 5 wickets|
|Ireland||Melbourne||Lost by 5 runs (DLS)|
|Australia||Melbourne||Match abandoned due to rain|
|New Zealand||Brisbane||Won by 20 runs|
|Sri Lanka||Sydney||Won by 4 wickets|
|India||Adelaide||Won by 10 wickets|
Pakistan's road to the final
|India||Melbourne||Lost by 4 wickets|
|Zimbabwe||Perth||Lost by 1 run|
|Netherlands||Perth||Won by 6 wickets|
|South Africa||Sydney||Won by 33 runs (DLS)|
|Bangladesh||Adelaide||Won by 5 wickets|
|New Zealand||Sydney||Won by 7 wickets|
Assuming it all goes ahead, Buttler is confident England can finish the job after beating India by 10 wickets in the semi-finals. Resurgent Pakistan beat New Zealand by seven wickets to earn the right to meet them.
England have selection decisions to make with batsman Dawid Malan and fast bowler Mark Wood missing the semi-final injured. They were replaced by Phil Salt, who was not required to bat, and Chris Jordan, who took 3/43.
“We will see how they pull up and hopefully progress to be available for selection come the final,” said Buttler of Malan and Wood.
Buttler’s brilliant 80 and Alex Hales’s blistering 86 did the damage against India, with the South Asian giant’s esteemed bowling attack having no answers.
Top England batters so far in the tournament
Top England bowlers so far in the tournament
Pakistan pace spearheads Mohammad Nawaz and Shaheen Shah Afridi will be tasked with blunting the in-form openers on Sunday.
Both teams know each other well, playing a seven-game T20 series in Pakistan ahead of the World Cup, which England won 4-3, rallying from 3-2 down.
Top Pakistan batters so far in the tournament
Top Pakistan bowlers so far in the tournament
- This will only be the third meeting between these two sides in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup with England winning on the previous two occasions.
- In this edition of the World Cup, England have been the most destructive batting team in the powerplay, scoring 52 runs for the loss of one wicket on an average every game. Pakistan, on the other hand, have been the most impactful bowling team in the same phase. On average, they have taken two wickets and conceded only 37 runs every game. The battle between these two nations in the first six overs could potentially be match-defining.
- Mohammad Rizwan was the player of the match in the semi-final for his blistering half-century that took the sting out of New Zealand’s bowling attack. Since the completion of the last ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, he has been the leading run-scorer in the format (1274 runs), averaging 47.2 at a strike-rate of 124.7. During this period, he has scored 32.2% of Pakistan’s runs in wins (Avg: 60.5, SR: 130.3) and thus, he will once again be crucial for them at the top of the order.
- Jos Buttler led England from the front against India and scored a scintillating 80* (49). Since the last year’s mega event, he has been one of England’s most prolific batters (Runs: 436, Avg: 36.3, SR: 160.9). In this period, Buttler has been particularly destructive between in the middle overs between 7-15, where he has one of the highest strike-rates with incredible boundary hitting ability (SR: 182.3, BPB: 4) and he will be a vital cog in their batting line-up.
- Shaheen Afridi is currently the joint second-highest wicket-taker in the Super 12s phase, having taken 10 wickets at an economy rate of just 6.2. He has been especially impressive in the powerplay overs where he has taken five wickets and has the joint-best economy rate among bowlers who have bowled 10 overs or more (ER: 5.2, SR: 13.2). 22.8% of Shaheen’s career wickets have come in his first over and his battle against England’s opening pair will be a fascinating one to watch.
- Sam Curran has been England’s most effective bowler since 2022, taking 22 wickets in 18 appearances. He has been majorly utilized as a death-overs specialist and has, in fact, taken the most number of wickets in this tournament between overs 16-20 (Wkts: 7, ER: 7.3, SR: 7.4).
England captain Jos Buttler: “Pakistan are a fantastic team. I think they have a very long history of producing excellent fast bowlers, and I see the team that we’re up against as no different.
I’m sure by the end of their careers, some of the guys who we’ll play against will go down as some of the best bowlers Pakistan have produced. That’s a huge part of why they get to a World Cup final.
We expect a really tough challenge, as mentioned before. They’re a team we’ve seen lots of in the recent past, and we’ve had some brilliant matches against them, played in a fantastic spirit, and I’m sure tomorrow will be no different.”
Pakistan captain Babar Azam: “England is a good team, they have a good bunch of players and they have quality fast bowlers and batsmen, so we will try our best to execute our plans and looking forward to the match.”
“England is a competitive team, their win to reach the finals against India was a proof of that. Our strategy is to stick to our plan and using our pace attack as our strength to win the finals.”
Pakistan team mentor Matthew Hayden: “It’s obvious really, isn’t it – quality fast bowling against quality batting, it’s why you watch the game. But we’ve got four quicks that really make an impact and can create some sustainable damage inside 20 overs. One of the things I think India was really missing in the bowling department was a leg-spinning option – really a sixth bowling option. Our side has six genuine options and a seventh as well should it be required. So I think the bases are covered. On the day, who handles the pressure, who’s got their game preparation spot on, who can handle their emotions, it’s how they start and how they finish. All those cliches of the sport, they matter in the big games.”
England: Jos Buttler (c), Moeen Ali, Harry Brook, Sam Curran, Chris Jordan, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Phil Salt, Ben Stokes, Tymal Mills, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, Alex Hales.
Pakistan: Babar Azam (c), Shadab Khan, Asif Ali, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim Jr, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Afridi, Shan Masood, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Haris.
With inputs from AFP. Tables courtesy ESPNcricinfo. Stats nuggets via Sportradar / ICC Online Media Zone.
England’s final against Pakistan will begin at the Melbourne Cricket Ground at 1.30 pm IST on Sunday, November 13.