An India-Pakistan clash might be a dream finale for many, but Kevin Pietersen thinks an England-Pakistan face-off at the MCG in the final of the 2022 men’s T20 World Cup is the most likely outcome.
Writing for Betway at the end of the Super 12 stage, Pietersen said that tournament cricket is about “peaking at the right time”, suggesting that England should not be looking back at what happened in the group stage, but instead, focus on the path ahead.
England’s entry into the semi-final came on the back of a nervy win against Sri Lanka, where they stumbled from 81-1 to 129-6, but eventually chased down 144 with two balls to spare. Finishing second on the Group 1 points table, they are set to face India on November 10.
“Let’s not worry about what’s happened in the group stage,” Pietersen said. “Let’s celebrate the fact that England are now in the semi-finals with the potential to make the final and win another World Cup. That’s the focus and the drive.
“The pressure was on against Sri Lanka, they delivered, and now it’s time to go and win the semi-final.”
Pietersen feels England have the upper hand over India in their Adelaide fixture on Thursday. A day before their clash though, Pakistan and New Zealand face each other in the first semi-final on Wednesday, and Pietersen expects Babar Azam & Co. to come up trumps.
“I think the world of cricket wants to see Pakistan take on India in the final, but there’s a very good chance it’s going to be England v Pakistan,” he wrote.
For England, one of the biggest challenges will be tackling an in-form Virat Kohli. Calling him the “greatest current player” in world cricket, Pietersen said it was good to see him back in runs, both from an India point of view, and for cricket in general.
But while he’s happy for his “close friend”, Pietersen “would like him to have a little bit of a break on Thursday!”
“At the Adelaide Oval, I think England beat India. With the quality running through the England side, I really do. But I just need Virat to have a day off.”
With 10 wickets at 9.40, Sam Curran has been England’s standout bowler in the tournament. Comparing him to another left-arm quick, Ryan Sidebottom, who had a major role to play in England’s 2010 World Cup triumph, Pietersen stated that the angle and shape that left-armers generate is very important in a T20 side, and Curran is “fulfilling that role beautifully for England”.
The 2022 edition is widely being considered the best T20 World Cup ever, given the high percentage of close games, the lack of runaway favourite, and the healthy contest between bat and ball. Pietersen said that the biggest takeaway from the event has been that, irrespective of the team’s stature and roster, “on any given day, in the shortest form of the game, one or two players have a really good game and anyone can beat you”.
“Just because you’ve got some of the best players in the world and you’re playing against a smaller team, it’s no longer a foregone conclusion,” he wrote. “That’s what is making T20 cricket so watchable and so entertaining, but also so serious. It’s serious business now.”