Consistency in team selection has served Pakistan well at this T20 World Cup. They are the only team not to tinker with their playing eleven, winning five out of five in the group phase. Ahead of the semifinal though, they have a mini scare, with Mohammad Rizwan and Shoaib Malik missing the training session on the match eve due to mild flu. According to a team official, they had “low fever” as well, but both are expected to be available for the semifinal against Australia. (Read Preview)
Pakistan have a good enough ‘keeper-batsman replacement in Sarfaraz Ahmed, but Rizwan has formed a formidable opening partnership with Babar Azam and without him the team’s balance could be upset. Malik has rolled back the years in this tournament, playing impact knocks in tight situations. He is also fresh from his half-century in the last match against Scotland.
One area of concern for Pakistan could be another veteran, Mohammad Hafeez, who hasn’t yet done much with the bat or ball. But the team counts on his experience and also he could be a good Powerplay option against David Warner.
Australia have changed their combinations frequently, sometimes going with an extra spinner, while at times playing an extra fast bowler. Against the West Indies, Mitchell Marsh was the sixth bowling option and he did an excellent job. In Dubai, however, teams have by and large gone with two spinners, at times three spinners even, and it needs to be seen if Australia prefer to go pace heavy. Pakistan batsmen are good at playing spin, so it’s unlikely that Ashton Agar would be drafted into the playing eleven. In any case, the Aussies have Glenn Maxwell as a second spin-bowling option, who is comfortable bowling in the Powerplay.
Pakistan likely XI: Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Hasan Ali, Haris Rauf, Shaheen Shah Afridi