Formidable New Zealand appear strong on paper, but they have to defy history when they clash with an unpredictable and upbeat Pakistan in the first T20 World Cup semifinal here on Wednesday.
Unlike Pakistan’s roller-coaster and miraculous journey into the last-four, the Kiwis had a straightforward passage into the knockout stage as they finished on top of Group 1 following wins over reigning champions Australia, Sri Lanka and Ireland in a group of ‘death’.
Babar Azam and his team mates, who had lost two key Super 12 clashes against India and Zimbabwe up front, were probably thinking of their departure plans when the Netherlands favoured them by eliminating South Africa on a dramatic Sunday.
All Pakistan had to do was to beat Bangladesh in the second match of the day to make a dream semi-final.
It’s giving a sense of ‘deja vu’ as Pakistan had clashed against New Zealand in the 1992 World Cup semi-final, coming from nowhere, and went on to win the match and later trophy.
Pakistan also have history backing them as New Zealand have lost all their previous World Cup semifinals to them in ODI (1992, 1999) and T20 (2007) formats
New Zealand’s propensity to falter at the big stage of a white-ball tournament is also a no secret. They have consistently reached the semis in the last four World Cups but never managed to last the distance.