The stage is set for the 2022 T20 World Cup final as Pakistan take on England at the MCG in Melbourne on Sunday. Many would’ve not predicted that these two sides would be the last two teams left in the tournament after shaky starts to the World Cup from both sides. Lwanele Poswayo looks at the players to watch for the final.
Mohammad Rizwan (Pakistan)
The world’s best T20 opener has not had the best of tournaments with the bat, looking out of sorts in the first few matches of the tournament. Mohammad Rizwan has had another fantastic year in this format scoring 1001 runs in 27 matches at an average of 45.50. Last year’s ICC Men’s T20 Cricketer of the Year has had an underwhelming World Cup for his lofty standards, scoring only 160 runs in 6 games at 26.66.
The good news for Pakistan is that Rizwan is finding form at the perfect time after his player-of-the-match performance in the semi-final against New Zealand, scoring 57 off 43 balls. His 105-run opening partnership with Babar Azam was a record-breaking one, becoming the first-ever duo to have three-century stands in the history of the ICC T20 World Cup.
If Rizwan and Babar play like they’ve been playing in the last two years, Pakistan have a great chance of winning their second T20 World Cup.
Shaheen Afridi (Pakistan)
Arguably Pakistan’s most important player at this World Cup, Shaheen Afridi has once again shown why he is regarded as one of the best players in the world. The left-arm seamer was a doubt for the tournament after missing the build-up through injury.
He’s had another brilliant tournament claiming 10 wickets including 4/22 in a must-win game against Bangladesh. His ability to take wickets in the Powerplay has been invaluable for Pakistan and will be the key if they are to beat England on Sunday. For me, he is the key man heading into the final and I expect him to perform for his side on the big stage.
Alex Hales (England)
Alex Hales was my pick to be England’s top tournament batsman and he hasn’t disappointed. The Englishman has scored 211 runs in five matches at an average of 52.75 including his 86 of 47 balls against India in yesterday’s semi-final.
Similar to Pakistan, the opening batsmen will be vital for England with Jos Buttler also contributing with the bat scoring 199 runs in the tournament so far. Hales will have his work cut out for him against a fantastic Pakistan attack but will back himself to continue his impressive form.
Sam Curran (England)
Sam Curran (10 wickets, ER 6.40) has been a revelation for England, especially in the death overs which will be vital on Sunday. He might not have had as many chances in the tournament if the in-form Reece Topley didn’t suffer an injury just before the World Cup.
He’s one of England’s in-form players heading into the final and will have to deliver for his side, especially if Mark Wood is not passed fit to play. Curran’s ability to take wickets upfront and at the death make him vital to England’s chances of winning the tournament.