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

The T20 World Cup 2024 is gearing up for an intense semi-final stage in the West Indies, where the top four teams will fiercely compete for a place in the prestigious final in Barbados on June 29.

This edition of the tournament has showcased thrilling cricket, featuring India, England, South Africa, and Afghanistan advancing from the Super 8 round to secure spots in the semi-finals.

Afghanistan caused a major upset by eliminating tournament favorites Australia with a surprising defeat, followed by a narrow victory against Bangladesh, marking their debut in the final four.

Meanwhile, the host West Indies, considered strong contenders, were eliminated after losses to England and South Africa in the Super 8.

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 time), Guyana National Stadium, Guyana.

With powerhouse teams and rising talent like Afghanistan competing in this high-energy format, fans are left pondering who will hoist the trophy, and whether an underdog could stage an unprecedented victory.

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

India – the favorites:

India enters the semi-finals with a formidable team boasting explosive batsmen, lethal bowlers, and versatile all-rounders such as Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, and Axar Patel. They remain unbeaten in the tournament, with six wins and one match abandoned. Key players like Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, and captain Rohit Sharma have been pivotal to their success, establishing them as the team to beat.

England – defending champions:

England, known for their aggressive cricket style, possess a deep batting lineup and adaptable bowling attack. Despite a shaky start, including a washout against Scotland and a heavy defeat to Australia, Jos Buttler’s squad bounced back with victories over 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 crucial roles, solidifying England’s position as strong contenders.

South Africa – the dark horse:

South Africa aims to overcome past knockout stage disappointments with match-winners like Quinton de Kock, Anrich Nortje, and Kagiso Rabada. They have set a record for the most consecutive wins in a single T20 World Cup, with seven victories. Returning to the semi-finals for the first time since 2014, South Africa seeks to break through and claim the championship.

Afghanistan – the surprise package:

Afghanistan, making a notable mark in world cricket, secured a spot in the semi-finals with a stunning win against former champions Australia and a crucial victory over Bangladesh. This achievement marks their first appearance in the final four, underscoring their rapid rise in T20 cricket. Led by talents like Rashid Khan and Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Afghanistan’s spirited team has the potential to surprise South Africa in the semi-final.

Brian Lara’s prediction validated:

Afghanistan’s success confirms the prediction by cricket legend Brian Lara, who foresaw their semi-final berth when few others did. Captain Rashid Khan expressed pride in proving Lara right, highlighting the team’s belief and determination.

As the T20 World Cup 2024 approaches its thrilling climax, favorites are distinguished by their depth and consistency, yet the tournament’s format allows room for surprises from underdogs like Afghanistan.

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