Both the semi-finals were a story of two sides who’s batting let them down badly. For both England and Pakistan they were both well short of setting a testing total which ultimately cost them.
England’s top six – not for the first time this year – failed them again, they had stumbled their way to 101/6 with a mix of over-attacking shots and poor shot selections before Tim Bresnan and Luke Wright put together a notable partnership of 107. With a contribution from Graeme Swann, England eventually set a target of 258 for Australia to chase.
Ricky Ponting must be at the moment the leading batsman in the world, coming to the crease at 6-1 after Tim Paine was out early, Ponting made batting look like a practise session in the nets as he effortlessly stroked the English bowlers to all parts on his way to yet another magnificent century, and in doing so he brought Shane Watson along with him who also bagged a century as the two made light work of chasing England’s paltry score while putting on an unbeaten partnership of 252.
In the second game it was Pakistan’s turn to come up short with the bat, they got of to a reasonable start putting on 46 for the first wicket and when Shoaib Malik was also out the score was 61/2 in the 13th over. After that they seemed to go backwards with an ultra cautious attitude mainly down to Mohammad Yousuf who scored a slow 45 of 78 balls as he slowed the runrate down.
Umar Akmal had a go at pushing things along a bit with 55 from 62 balls, but when he was out the score was 181/6 in the 41st over. A mini collapse over the next four overs seen them fall to 198/9 and in danger of not making 200 before Mohammad Aamer and Saeed Ajmal got them to 233/9 with a last wicket partnership and at least gave them something to bowl at.
Ultimately like with England it wasn’t enough, try as they did to throw it away New Zealnd got there in the end quite comfortably with a partnership of 104 from Daniel Vettori (41) and Grant Elliott (75no) taking them to a 5 wicket victory. At 126/4 the Kiwis did look like they were about to make a mess of things but skipper Vettori and Elliott steadied the ship and stopped the succession of falling wickets before pressing the accelerator at the end and winning it with 13 balls to spare.
All in all both Pakistan and England lost the game with the bat, with the way Ricky Ponting and Grant Elliott batted in their respective matches another 20-30 runs might not have made much difference anyway but scoreboard presure can do silly things to players and without it the job can look so much easier.
New Zealand’s chances must depend on getting rid of Ricky Ponting early on, the way he is batting at the moment is in a different class and it is rubbing off on his team mates as shown with Watson’s century.
Shane Bond will be key for New Zealand and if he can get into them early on and get rid of Ponting to expose the more flimsy looking middle order – without Michael Clarke – they may well have a good chance.
Daniel Vettori looked to be carrying an injury against Pakistan and he needs to play if the Kiwi’s are to have a chance. His leadership is vitally important and he is always there fighting for them, with his influence with both bat and ball as well New Zealand can’t do without him.