In a tournament dominated by the chaser Ed Hawkins says the toss will have the final say on the path to glory
"The big concern about the Kiwis pre-Super 12 was their batting power. Such fears have not been allayed. It's now a full-blown psychosis"
England - Roy and Mills big absences
To win tournament: England 2.8815/8
To reach final: 1.574/7
Super 12 boundary batting % rank: 1
Super 12 boundary bowling % rank: 2
Semi-final opponents: New Zealand
Strengths: Fantastic power with the bat and meanness with the ball. They are the closest thing the tournament has to a complete team.
They are unlikely to be worried by New Zealand in the semi-final purely because they know they can outmuscle them with the bat. In that regard it's not a really a contest and when 85% of T20 matches are won by the team which hits the most boundaries England are right to be cocky.
Weaknesses: The loss of Jason Roy is a potential hammer blow. Roy sets the tone. Period. It was no coincidence that when he was injured during England's World Cup campaign the wheels came off. And no coincidence they got back on track when he returned. With Tymal Mills also out, England are looking threadbare. Eoin Morgan's form remains an issue. Morgan a couple of years ago wins them a tight chase against South Africa.
Probable XI Bairstow, Buttler, Malan, Livingstone, Morgan, Moeen, Billings, Woakes, Jordan, Rashid, Wood
Pakistan - Big hitters have big chance
Strengths: Pakistan went off like a train against India and they have shown no signs of slowing. Indeed, one always expects a spectacular derailment with this lot but they avoided it against Afghanistan with uncharacteristic brutal death hitting. That probably makes Asif Ali their MVP because Pakistan are just not supposed to be that explosive. However, they are now almost out-hitting England. They trail by 0.6% on the batting fours and sixes rank. They were smart in the final group games by trying out defending targets. Shaheen Shah Afridi is a new- and old-ball menace.
Weaknesses: Despite an excellent group campaign, it is not unreasonable to reckon Pakistan are a team that need the toss to go their way. They need to chase and had they not done so against India and New Zealand, they might not have made it. The latter was a close-run thing. Against a strong Australia attack the Babar-Rizwan opening pair may become a weaknesses, leaving an unconvincing middle order with to much to do. Fakhar Zaman is in poor nick at No 3. A strategy of setting it up for a late assault might not come off against better units because.
Probable XI Babar, Rizwan, Fakhar, Hafeez, Shoaib, Asif Ali, Imad, Shadab, Hasan, Afridi, Rauf
Australia - Shackles off but have they been tested?
Strengths: Australia have found some intent. Without it, they would be on the plane home. For years their has been a safety-first approach and had they not managed to cast off the shackles, a cautious South Africa would have piped them. They have learnt a valuable lesson and are now extremely dangerous. They have been better with the ball than their bowling boundary percentage suggests. They were ranked top of the tree on economy before a ball was bowled. Two toss wins and they will reckon the title is theirs.
Weaknesses: Have they been tested? Only against England and that was hammering. West Indies, South Africa and the rest from the group were easy prey. Sure, that may well have served to only awaken the Aussie fighting spirit but, if they have to defend a target in the knockouts their lack of experience and nous could come back to haunt them.
Don't be fooled by David Warner hit against West Indies. Against the top sides with pace, he is suspect. The Windies were military medium and cannon fodder to Warner.
Probable XI Warner, Finch, M Marsh, Smith, Maxwell, Stoinis, Wade, Cummins, Starc, Hazlewood, Zampa
New Zealand - Batting power may let them down
Strengths: Bowling. And fielding. They are, simply, the best in-field team in the Super 12. Ordinarily we would be all over such a team because those are the two disciplines which really count in T20 Super 12s. There have been surprising performances. Tim Southee and Jimmy Neesham have both defied the analysts with remarkable efforts with the ball. Trent Boult has been as potent as ever with 11 wickets.
Weaknesses: The big concern about the Kiwis pre-Super 12 was their batting power. Such fears have not been allayed. It's now a full-blown psychosis. They are way down in eighth.
There's little they can do about that. They could eventually pay the price for cramming too many openers into an XI. If they have to bat first, their sluggish nature (Kane Williamson in particular) is a huge danger with more adventurous opponents.
Probable XI Mitchell, Guptill, Williamson, Conway, Philips, Neesham, Santner, Southee, Milne, Boult, Sodhi
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