S. SOORAJ | 12th November 2021

Cricket is a funny game. And especially when it comes to the shortest format of the game, everything; expectations, predictions, and analysis can be binned.

The margin for error and unpredictability is sky-high which makes it box-office, each and every time.

Two teams that absolutely bossed the group stages and were looking to be the clear favorites for the finals have been knocked out back-to-back to prove that if you don’t love cricket, we feel sorry for you.

Alright sure, the T20 World Cup 2021 hasn’t lived up to the billing. But after the New Zealand vs England classic, Australia vs Pakistan proved once again that the last thing one should do is give up on the gift from the big man upstairs, that is cricket.

Without further do, let’s jump right into the 4 talking points from a semi-final that did not disappoint to say the least.

1. You would be a fool to count Warner out in T20 cricket

The past couple of months have been tough for David Warner. He was first asked to step down as the Sunrisers Hyderabad captain and then, the Aussie veteran was forced out of the team after a poor run of form.

But anyone who thinks David Warner isn’t good enough for T20 cricket can only be forgiven for starting to watch the game a couple of months ago.

Warner is easily one of the greatest ever batsmen to play the shortest format of the game and yet again, he rose to the occasion to save the Australians in a crunch tie.

With wickets falling consistently on the other end, the legendary leftie held the fort, making sure that Australia were never out, even if they were down.

And if not for the poor umpiring decision that sent him back to the pavilion without having edged the ball, he would have seen the game through for the men in yellow, as he has almost habitually over the years.

It was truly a pleasure to see one of the greats of the format, stepping up and delivering exactly what the world expected from him.

Take a bow, David.

2. Mohammad Rizwan deserves his flowers

Babar Azam is the poster boy of Pakistani cricket and ever since the start of the T20 World Cup, he has unsurprisingly been on the receiving end of the plaudits.

And while his sensational displays deserve all the praise in the world, the name Mohammad Rizwan deserves to be celebrated on par with that of his captain.

To emphasize this point, Rizwan has had a scintillating 2021, with 1033 runs and 10 fifties in T20 internationals, the most by any player in T20Is in a single calendar year.

And he continued his ferocious streak in UAE, delivering consistently and keeping his side so far up at the top that other teams could only look at the sky and wish they could reach Pakistan’s lofty standards.

And against Australia, he was at his unplayable best, knocking the seasoned pace trio of Cummins, Starc and Hazelwood all over the park.

Despite a slow start, he got into his stride as he stayed on the crease, scoring 67 runs off 52 balls and being the protagonist behind Pakistan’s sizeable total of 176.

And what’s special about this knock is that, Rizwan was hospitalized two days with a lung infection, prior to the semifinals. Not only did he come back from such a blow in no time but put on a display that we won’t forget anytime soon.

A slow Dubai pitch was made to look like a batter’s dream by Rizwan.

While that score certainly wasn’t enough to see his side through to victory, Rizwan can leave with his head held high because he was phenomenal and on luckier days, he would find himself in a final.

It’s high time the cricketing world hails a truly exceptional batter.

3. Matthew Wade’s cameo of cameos is one for the history books

It’s interesting how the smallest of roles can make the biggest of impacts in T20 cricket. Out of 240 balls in a T20 encounter, Matthew Wade was only involved in 17 but that’s all he needed to turn the game on its head.

The selection of a 33-year old Wade ahead of the likes of young wicket-keeper batsmen like Alex Carey and Josh Phillippe was met by raised eyebrows but after playing the cameo that has sent the Aussies to their first ever T20 World Cup final, the critics and their complaints are nowhere to be seen.

Experience always comes in handy, even in a format that is considered to be suited for the younger bucks. Playing a blinding 41 off 17, Wade’s knock was reminiscent of a certain Michael Hussey special against Pakistan in the 2010 T20 World Cup.

And to top it off, Wade treated Shaheen Afridi, the best bowler of the tournament like a net bowler when he whacked the young left-armer to no end. With 22 required off two overs, the wicketkeeper batsmen did it in one. Unreal.

4. A minor setback doesn’t change the tournament Shaheen had

Being on the receiving end of three consecutive sixes that knocked them out of the tournament has got to sting hard for Shaheen Afridi.

But that doesn’t take anything away from this young sensation, who took the world by storm with his excellent swing bowling in UAE. Shaheen has quite easily been the bowler of the tournament, from day one of the tournament.

And to be honest, the semi0final against Australia wasn’t his worst game either. He was on a roll, conceding just 13 runs in his first three overs and picking up a crucial wicket in the first over of the game.

The 21-year-old almost ended Australia’s hopes singlehandedly with his first spell where he was absolutely unplayable.

While the ending wasn’t happy, Shaheen etched a story for every aspiring young bowler to take inspiration from.