We’ve reached Day 16 of the ICC World Twenty20 tournament and the margin for error for those seeking to reach the semi-finals is getting thinner with each game. Neither Pakistan or Australia can afford to drop anymore points, which should lead to a mouth watering clash in Mohali.
With New Zealand running away with Group A, the pressure is on both teams to keep pace with India for the second semi-final spot. Consecutive defeats for Pakistan make it even more important that they pick up a win, but a loss for Australia would be highly damaging to their hopes.
The other game of the day sees the undefeated West Indies take on a South African team still smarting from an unlikely defeat to England in their opener – when they failed to defend a mammoth score of 229. They bounced back with a victory over Afghanistan – again scoring over 200 – but their bowling is a concern against the likes of Gayle, Russell et al.
Sharjeel Khan: Khan was the only batsman to really get going against New Zealand, hitting a rapid 47 and setting up his team-mates with a legitimate shot to chase down 180. They couldn’t take advantage, but that takes nothing away from an exceptional display of powerplay batting where he hit 10 boundaries in just 25 balls.
Shane Watson: Watson surprisingly chose yesterday to announce his decision to retire from international cricket at the conclusion of this tournament. While the timing is strange he remains a key cog for the Aussies, opening the innings with both bat and ball against Bangladesh. The knowledge that the end is rapidly approaching may spur him on to some big performances.
Chris Gayle: Gayle didn’t bat due to an injury against Sri Lanka and while it didn’t cost West Indies the game, it revealed their obvious reliance on the power hitting opener. Without him they are more Clark Kent than Superman, and their hopes of winning the competition are hugely diminished. Fortunately, he is expected to be fit to face a struggling South African bowling unit.
Dale Steyn: For the better part of a year it has been murmured that Steyn might not quite have the fear factor he once possessed. Now, after two games where the whole South African attack has been carted everywhere, people are openly saying it. Afghanistan opener Mohammad Shahzad described him as “not dangerous”, an opinion that will surely rile the bowler once regarded as the best in the world.