Australia's narrow win over Afghanistan on Friday sent New Zealand through to the T20 World Cup semi-finals and set England a straightforward target to join them.

England need only a victory against Sri Lanka in Saturday's final Group 1 match to be sure of a place in the last four.

Hosts and defending champions Australia had been facing an uphill battle to improve their run rate ever since an 89-run thrashing at the hands of the Black Caps in their opener.

With their meeting with England rained off, the margin of victory in other matches was going to prove pivotal.

Although Australia survived a scare in beating Afghanistan by four runs, that tight affair left their net run rate at -0.173, below England's mark of +0.547, which will improve further with victory over Sri Lanka.

The home nation therefore need Sri Lanka to defeat England and keep them in the top two on seven points.

Stand-in Australia captain Matthew Wade said: "We'll stay the extra night here and watch that game. We'll be hoping for a little bit of an upset there, obviously.

"That's tournament play – we put ourselves in this situation straight from the get-go this time. Although we've been trying to chase a little bit of run rate, it just hasn't really gone our way.

"We've been a little bit slow getting out of the blocks in this tournament. Hopefully it doesn't cost us."

Glenn Maxwell struck a similar tone, saying: "We'll certainly be following it. We've obviously put ourselves in this situation, but hopefully Sri Lanka can do the job for us."

Although Maxwell scored an unbeaten 54 off 32 against Afghanistan, he added: "It was quite hard to press the issue.

"We probably got to about the 12-over mark, where we just had to put a total on the board to make sure we gave ourselves a chance of winning the game.

"Even though we were trying to go hard at the back end, they bowled extremely well."

If Sri Lanka can do Australia a huge favour, Wade is "very hopeful" skipper Aaron Finch and all-rounder Tim David will return for the semi-finals.

David was "really, really close" but failed a late fitness test on Friday, Wade added.

Matthew Wade has tested positive for coronavirus but is expected to play in Australia's huge T20 World Cup showdown with England on Friday.

The wicketkeeper-batter returned a positive test on Wednesday evening, but only has minor symptoms.

Wade is set to feature at the MCG, provided his symptoms remain only minor, while spinner Adam Zampa is poised to play his first match of the tournament after he was sidelined by COVID-19.

Australia do not have a recognised back-up keeper in their squad after Josh Inglis suffered a hand injury prior to the tournament and was replaced by all-rounder Cameron Green.

Glenn Maxwell took the gloves in training on Thursday, but it would seem he will not be required to step in behind the stumps in a crucial Group 1 showdown.

The hosts are fifth in Group 1, two places behind England after they suffered a stunning five-run loss to Ireland by the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method in a rainy Melbourne on Wednesday.

Matthew Wade says a crushing defeat to England in the last T20 World Cup was a "lightbulb moment" for Australia as the two sides prepare to do battle in a three-match series.

England hammered Australia by eight wickets with 50 balls to spare in the group stage of the T20 World Cup last year, but Aaron Finch's side went on to win the title for the first time.

Australia opted to go with a longer batting line-up after that crushing loss rather than pick five bowlers and reaped the rewards, beating New Zealand in the final.

The holders start the defence of their crown on home soil against the Black Caps at the SCG on October 22, but before then they take on an England side who are among the favourites to dethrone them.

Wicketkeeper-batter Wade feels the manner in which they were dismantled by England was a "turning point".

He said ahead of the opening match of the series at Perth Stadium: "They destroyed us in the World Cup. It was probably a turning point for the way we go about playing T20.

"We had to start to go a little bit harder, especially towards the top and then back end it with seven batters. We stuck to that formula after they destroyed us in the World Cup.

"So we're looking forward to playing them and see whether our game style [continues to work] – since then [it] has changed a little bit and hopefully we can go blow for blow with them.

"We've got seven batters now – we played six batters for a long time … but now we've got the power and we've got the depth of batting that I think you need to go with a team like England. You need to be able to score 200 to beat them on their day."

Captain Jos Buttler returns for a calf injury to lead England and Test skipper Ben Stokes is back after missing the 4-3 series win in Pakistan, but Liam Livingstone (ankle) remains sidelined.

England have won four of the past five T20Is between the two fierce rivals, but Australia have been victorious in seven of the last eight contests on home soil.

 

Smith in the spotlight

Australia completed a 2-0 whitewash of West Indies at The Gabba on Friday, but Steve Smith missed out once again as he fell for 17.

The former captain has not scored a T20I half-century since November 2019 and could do with some runs against England.

With Tim David having staked his claim for a place in the side and all-rounder Marcus Stoinis returning, Smith is in the spotlight.

Hales and Salt battling for opening berth

The return of Buttler at the top of the order means England will have to choose between Alex Hales and Phil Salt for the other opening spot.

Hales made a half-century in his long-awaited England comeback in the first match of the series against Pakistan, but fell for under 20 on three occasions.

Salt blasted a stunning unbeaten 88 from 41 balls in the sixth T20I in Lahore, but it remains to be seen if he will retain his place.

West Indies lost their opening T20 International against Australia in Queensland on Wednesday by three wickets with a ball to spare to go 0-1 down in the two-match series.

Australia completed a thrilling chase of 208 to take the lead in their T20I series with India, as Matthew Wade dragged the tourists over the line for a four-wicket win in Mohali.

India looked set for victory after setting a formidable target, rounded off by an unbeaten knock of 71 from Hardik Pandya.

But after Axar Patel (3-17) and Umesh Yadav (2-27) dealt with the Aussies' openers, Wade stepped up late on to earn the visitors their fourth consecutive win over India in the format.

India lost both skipper Rohit Sharma (11) and Virat Kohli (2) within the first five overs, but opener KL Rahul's half-century ensured they made decent progress thereafter.

Rahul – who received Rohit's backing as India's preferred opener ahead of the upcoming T20 World Cup last week – brought up 55 by the 12th over before being caught by Nathan Ellis from Josh Hazlewood's delivery. 

Australia's hopes of limiting the hosts to a low score soon evaporated, however, as Hardik took over with a superb knock – which included 48 runs in the final four overs of the innings – to carry India to 208.

Visiting captain Aaron Finch (22) was then clean bowled by Axar in the left-hander's first over with the ball, but Cameron Green led a strong response, scoring 61 before Patel doubled up with Australia reaching 109-2.

The hosts appeared to be closing in on victory when Dinesh Karthik claimed catches to dismiss both Steve Smith (35) and Glenn Maxwell (1) off Umesh's bowling, but Wade had other ideas.

The 34-year-old scored 45 off 21 balls – recording a strike rate only bettered by Hardik on the day – to carry his side to victory, getting the T20 world champions off to a flyer in the three-match series.

Hardik hard done by

Hardik's effort looked likely to prove decisive for much of the contest, and he can certainly bear no responsibility for the hosts' defeat after his outstanding showing.

Only Yuvraj Singh (58 v England in 2007) and Kohli (54 v Afghanistan in 2022) have bettered his total of 48 runs in the final four overs of an innings for India.

World champions send home records tumbling

While Australia made it four in a row against India in the shortest format, they also dealt a rare blow to Rohit's side on home soil.

Ahead of Tuesday's defeat, India had won 13 of their last 15 home T20Is, with their only two losses coming against South Africa in June. 

Meanwhile, this is the first time they have suffered a T20I defeat at the Punjab Cricket Association IS Bindra Stadium in Mohali, having won on all three of their previous outings there.

Pakistan captain Babar Azam acknowledged that Hasan Ali's drop of Matthew Wade was crucial as Australia made it into the T20 World Cup final.

Mohammed Rizwan (67) led the way before fireworks from Fakhar Zaman (55 not out) guided Pakistan to 176-4 from their 20-over allocation in Thursday's semi-final.

Australia were then teetering on the brink in response when Glenn Maxwell was dismissed, leaving Aaron Finch's side 96-5 after 12.2 overs and requiring a further 81 off 46 balls.

However, Wade (41 not out) – who finished with three straight sixes after being dropped by Ali in the penultimate over – and Marcus Stoinis (40 not out) edged Australia to victory to tee up a final with New Zealand.

The result came as somewhat of a surprise given Pakistan coasted through Group 2 with five wins from their five games to set up the semi-final with Australia, who nudged through Group 1 on net run rate.

After the game, Babar pinpointed the missed chance – in which Ali dropped Wade on the deep-midwicket boundary from Shaheen Afridi's bowling – as the defining moment in a contest of fine margins.

"When you give teams like Australia a chance, they take the match away from you," Babar said post-match. "If that catch that Hasan Ali dropped had been taken, maybe the result would have been different.

"As a player, you have to be on your toes and avail any opportunity you get. We made a mistake and it cost us the match."

Pakistan's dominant performance up until the knockout stages included a historic 10-wicket victory over India and a five-wicket win over New Zealand, who succeeded against England in Wednesday's semi-final.

Babar pointed to his team's prior performances as he expressed his pride in Pakistan's efforts, despite Australia's lower middle order once again stunning them as they did in the 2010 T20 World Cup semi-final.

"The way we played the tournament and gelled together as a team, I am very satisfied with my team's efforts as captain," he continued.

"We'll try and learn from our mistakes and come back stronger. When you play a big tournament so well, it's good but you have to perform on the day. You can't relax in any department.

"We'll try and continue our efforts; how we performed gave us confidence and we'll try and build on from that.

"The roles we had defined for everyone, they executed brilliantly, and you saw that from us on the field. The way the crowd supported us was very enjoyable. We always enjoy ourselves here and I'm thankful to the fans back home for supporting us."

Aaron Finch lauded the depth of his Australia squad as they dug deep to beat Pakistan and advance to the T20 World Cup final, led by Matthew Wade's late show.

Australia were set 177 to win after putting Pakistan in to bat in Thursday's second semi-final.

"I was actually hoping I'd lose the toss and try to bat first on that wicket," captain Finch said afterwards. "I thought it would be nice to put a total on the board in the semi-final."

The Australia skipper was delighted with how his decision panned out, though, as his team followed New Zealand's example against England and chased down a daunting target with an over to spare.

Finch's men looked to be in trouble when they were reduced to 96-5 in the 13th over, having lost the captain for a golden duck as Pakistan made a rapid start.

But Australia have dangerous options right down their batting line-up and an unbroken partnership of 81 off just 41 deliveries between Wade (41) and Marcus Stoinis (40) stunned Pakistan.

"I thought we were actually pretty sloppy today. We dropped a couple of chances in the field, a couple of really, really tough ones, no doubt," Finch said.

"But I think it shows the depth of our team at the moment, which is really important. You need the support of all 17 players in your squad to get across the line. We played some really good cricket towards the back end."

Wade finished with three straight sixes immediately after being dropped by the hapless Hasan Ali, and he said: "When I got out there with Marcus, he was really confident we'd get them, even though I was a little unsure.

"He found the boundaries early on, and I was happy to chip in at the end. It got down to two a ball, and from there it was: if you got one in your arc, just try to hit it.

"It probably hasn't sunk in yet but I'm just happy I could contribute. I was out of the team a couple of years ago and I'm just glad I got an opportunity and repaid the faith."

Australia successfully executed another astonishing semi-final run chase to beat Pakistan by five wickets and join New Zealand in the T20 World Cup final.

New Zealand had stunned England in the first semi on Thursday, and Australia followed suit thanks to Matthew Wade's unbeaten 41 off 17, taking the match away from Pakistan just as they looked to be in the driving seat.

As in the encounter between the Black Caps and England, momentum swung back and forth in an epic at Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

Australia won the toss and decided to bowl, but David Warner and Adam Zampa each dropped early half-chances from Mohammad Rizwan, who capitalised to score 67 in building big partnerships with Babar Azam (39) and Fakhar Zaman (55 not out).

Zaman hit seven boundaries, including four sixes, off just 32 balls to ensure a big finish and a total of 176-4, and Pakistan were in the ascendancy as Shaheen Shah Afridi (1-35) then made a blistering start with the ball, removing Aaron Finch for a duck and seeing Mitchell Marsh survive only by umpire's call from the very next delivery.

But the depth of Australia's batting line-up kept them in with a shout as they were left with enough depth even after David Warner (49) fell to Shadab Khan (4-26).

A mammoth undefeated partnership of 81 off just 41 deliveries between Wade and Marcus Stoinis (40 no) got the job done, although it should have been halted by Hasan Ali, who dropped Wade off Afridi in the middle of the 19th over.

Wade's response was ruthless, sending the next three balls for six to complete an outstanding pursuit on 177-5 with six balls to spare.

Rizwan rockets to runs record

Babar – this stadium's leading T20I run scorer – already had four fifties at this tournament, a joint-record at a single T20 World Cup, and he looked on course for a new benchmark until Zampa intervened at the end of the 10th over.

Rather than slow Pakistan, though, that wicket set the stage for an innings-defining second-wicket stand from Rizwan and Zaman, who combined for 72 off 46, including 21 in the 17th over alone.

Zaman's big hitting caught the eye, but Rizwan's four sixes helped take him to 1,000 T20I runs in 2021. He is the first player to reach four figures in a single calendar year.

Hapless Hasan lets Wade win it

Shadab was a rare positive with the ball for Pakistan, becoming only the second bowler to take four wickets in a T20 World Cup semi or final after Ajantha Mendis' 4-12 in the 2012 decider. His bowling economy of 6.50 was far and away his side's best effort.

Even his other misfiring team-mates paled next to Hasan, who must have thought his evening could get no worse after giving up 11 runs an over after using his full quota.

But Hasan's attempts to make amends saw him make up good ground to get under a ball from Wade, only to run too far, let the chance slip through his hands and watch on in despair as the batsman took the tournament away from a previously unbeaten Pakistan side.

Australia will be aiming to preserve their 100 per cent record against Bangladesh in T20I action when a five-match series begins in Dhaka on Tuesday.

Matthew Wade will captain Australia in place of Aaron Finch, who is to undergo surgery on a knee injury, while Steve Smith, David Warner, Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis are also not part of the touring squad.

Pat Cummins is another notable absentee, though the visitors still boast a strong bowling attack that is set to be led by Mitchell Starc, who is on the brink of becoming his country's all-time leading wicket-taker in the shortest format.

The left-arm paceman has 48 wickets to his name, putting him in a tie for top spot on Australia's list alongside former team-mate Shane Watson.

Set to keep wicket as well as lead the team, Wade – likely to bat in the middle order, a role he seems likely to fill for the T20 World Cup later this year – understands the issues that come with taking on a dual role.

"I'm obviously wicketkeeping, so the distance between the bowler and myself is a lot greater and that means there's a lot more responsibility on the individual," he told reporters.

"When you come in and take over from someone it's just about giving the ability for those guys to really take ownership of their game and at the top of the mark, they need to execute."

Bangladesh have some key figures missing too, including injured opening batsman Tamim Iqbal. As for Mushfiqur Rahim and Liton Das, they are not involved having failed to meet requirements for the bio-secure bubble agreed upon by the two respective cricket boards ahead of the series.

Mushfiqur left the recent tour of Zimbabwe early for family reasons amid the COVID-19 health crisis and could not make the July 20 cut-off date.

While they have lost all four previous T20I meetings between the countries, Bangladesh will recognise they are facing vulnerable opponents. Australia have lost each of their previous four series in Twenty20 cricket, a run that started after a 2-1 triumph over South Africa in February 2020.

Bangladesh, meanwhile, have won three of their last four men's T20Is played at the Shere Bangla National Stadium, venue for all five matches.


Marsh makes an all-round impact

Mitchell Marsh excelled on the tour of the West Indies, finishing up as leading run-scorer in the T20 games (219 at an average of 43.80). However, his work with the ball was just as impressive in the Caribbean, claiming eight wickets while going at an economy rate of 6.76 runs per over. 

The 29-year-old all-rounder has a bowling average of 10.1 in T20Is since the beginning of 2019, the best by any player from a Test-playing country in that time (minimum 10 overs bowled).

Star Shakib needs to shine

Bangladesh's batting line-up is weakened by the absences of Tamim, Mushfiqur and Das, meaning even greater responsibility could land on the shoulders of Shakib Al Hasan.

The all-rounder is on the cusp of becoming the first player to record 10 scores of 50 or more for Bangladesh in T20I action. His batting average in the format against Australia (35.8) is his second best against any team, only managing better against Pakistan (41.7).

Key series facts

- Australia's 4-0 record against Bangladesh in T20I action is the most number of games they have played against any country without suffering defeat.

- Bangladesh will be aiming to win back-to-back multi-game T20I series for the first time, after defeating Zimbabwe 2-1 in July 2021.

- Australia have won only one of their last T20Is (L5), a four-run victory over West Indies in July 2021.

- Bangladesh have scored 52 per cent of their runs from boundaries in T20Is since the beginning of 2019, the second lowest rate of any Test-playing country in that time (Sri Lanka: 45 per cent).

- Australia have a bowling dot ball percentage of 37 per cent in T20I fixtures since the beginning of 2019, the highest rate of any Test-playing country in that time and two percentage points higher than Bangladesh (35 per cent).

Matthew Wade has been dropped from Australia's Test squad for their tour of South Africa, but he will head to New Zealand for a Twenty20 series.

Wade, 33, came under fire for several poor dismissals as Australia suffered a 2-1 series loss to an injury-hit India.

He finished the series with 173 runs at an average of 21.6 and was left out of the squad set to face South Africa, although the tour is subject to a final sign-off.

In what is a similar squad to the one that went down to India, Alex Carey was included with Wade omitted, while Tim Paine remains captain despite criticism.

"The squad is quite similar to that selected for the final two Tests of the recently-completed Border-Gavaskar series, with the exception of Matt Wade, who will join the Australian men's T20I squad in New Zealand, and the addition of Alex Carey, who has been in strong form with both bat and gloves," Australia national selector Trevor Hohns said.

"David Warner, Will Pucovski and Marcus Harris all opened at different stages against India and should be well-suited to the conditions in South Africa. Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith were in good form during the Australian summer and Travis Head has an opportunity to reclaim the number five spot.

"We've been very impressed with Cameron Green's first foray into Test cricket as an all-rounder batting at number six and we have great depth with the in-form Moises Henriques also in the squad.

"Tim Paine was excellent at number seven against India and as a batsman, wicketkeeper and captain still has much to offer in the Test arena.

"Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Swepson offer wonderful spin bowling options for South African conditions. Similarly, we like the skill, execution and variation offered by our pace corps of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Sean Abbott and Mark Steketee."

Wade was named in an 18-man T20 squad set to face New Zealand in five matches, beginning on February 22.

Australia Test squad for tour of South Africa: Tim Paine, Pat Cummins, Sean Abbott, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Will Pucovski, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mark Steketee, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner.

Australia T20 squad for tour of New Zealand: Aaron Finch, Matthew Wade, Ashton Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Josh Philippe, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Daniel Sams, Tanveer Sangha, D’Arcy Short, Marcus Stoinis, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa.

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