T20 World Cup semi-finals: who's your last word goes with?

T20 World Cup semi-finals: who's your last word goes with?


Are there more surprises in store?

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By Anees-ur-Rehman

The T20 World Cup 2024 is building up to an electrifying semi-final stage in the West Indies, where the top four teams are set to fiercely battle for a place in the prestigious final in Barbados on June 29.

This edition of the T20 World Cup has delivered thrilling cricket, with India, England, South Africa, and Afghanistan emerging from the Super 8 round to secure their spots in the semi-finals.

Afghanistan, in particular, pulled off a major upset by eliminating tournament favourite Australia with a shocking defeat, followed by a narrow win against Bangladesh, marking their first qualification for the final four.

Meanwhile, the host West Indies, considered a strong contender for the trophy, were knocked out after losses to England and South Africa in the Super 8 round.

Semi-final schedule

First semi-final: South Africa vs Afghanistan, Wednesday, June 26 (8:30pm local time), Brian Lara Cricket Academy, Tarouba, Trinidad and Tobago.

Second semi-final: India vs England, Thursday, June 27 (10:30am local), Guyana National Stadium, Guyana.

With powerhouse teams and emerging talent like Afghanistan clashing in this high-octane format, fans are left pondering: who will lift the trophy, and could an underdog make an unprecedented run to victory?

Let’s delve into the dynamics shaping the semi-finals:

India – the favourites

India enter the semi-finals as a formidable force, boasting a well-rounded squad with some explosive batsmen, lethal bowlers, and dynamic all-rounders like Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, and Axar Patel.

They are unbeaten in this tournament, with six victories and one washout. Key players such as Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, and captain Rohit Sharma have been pivotal in India's success, making them the team to beat.

England – defending champions

England, the defending champions, are known for their aggressive style of cricket, with a deep batting lineup and an adaptable bowling attack.

Despite a rocky start, including a washout against Scotland and a heavy defeat to Australia, the Jos Buttler-led side rebounded by defeating co-hosts West Indies and the USA to reach the semi-finals.

Players such as Jos Buttler, Phil Salt, Jofra Archer, and Adil Rashid have played key roles in the journey, reinforcing England’s status as strong contenders.

South Africa – the dark horse

South Africa, with match-winners like Quinton de Kock, Anrich Nortje, and Kagiso Rabada, aim to overcome their historical struggles in the knockout stages. They have set a record for the most consecutive wins in a single T20 World Cup, with seven victories.

As they head into the semi-finals for the first time since 2014, South Africa seek to break past disappointments and claim the trophy.

Sri Lanka hold the second spot with six wins in the 2009 T20 World Cup, tied with Australia, who also had six wins in the 2010 and 2021 tournaments.

Afghanistan – the surprise entry

Afghanistan, a no-more minnow in the world cricket, announced their arrival on the world stage with a stunning victory against former world champions Australia and Bangladesh to cement their place in the last four. They have rewritten the history books by qualifying for the semi-final first time.

Afghanistan's rise in T20 cricket has been meteoric. With world-class talent in the form of Rashid Khan and Rahmanullah Gurbaz, their ability to punch above their weight is undeniable. The spirited Afghan side can surprise South Africa in the semi-final.

Brian Lara’s prediction comes true

Afghanistan’s success validates the prediction made by cricket legend Brian Lara who was the sole pundit to foresee their semi-final berth.

Captain Rashid Khan expressed pride in proving Lara right, reflecting the team’s belief and determination.

"I think we have proved one person very right: Brian Lara, the only person who mentioned Afghanistan to be in the top four, in semis. I think we told him that as well when we met him in the welcome party - we will make sure we prove that right as well,” Rashid said at the post-match press conference.

As the T20 World Cup 2024 nears its thrilling conclusion, the favourites are distinguished by their depth and consistency, but the tournament’s short format leaves ample room for surprises from underdogs like Afghanistan.