T20 World Cup 2021: Shoaib Malik says playing Australia in semi-final gives him ‘butterflies’

Shoaib Malik blazed 54 runs off 18 balls against Scotland | Getty Images

Pakistan veteran batter Shoaib Malik expected a “tough game” between the Men in Green and Australia in the second semi-final of the ongoing ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 to be held at Dubai International Stadium on November 13 (Saturday).

On Sunday, November 7, Malik blazed 54* runs off 18 balls against Scotland, smashing six sixes and a four in his fabulous knock, which is the fastest fifty for a Pakistan batsman in T20Is in their final Group 2 game.

The all-rounder’s quickfire knock helped Pakistan post 189/2 on the board, which they successfully defended by restricting Scotland to 117/6 to win the game by 72 runs on Sunday, as the Men in Green remain unbeaten in the ongoing ICC T20 World Cup 2021 unbeaten till now.

Following the clinical win over Scotland, Pakistan has set up a semi-final date with Australia in Dubai – which reminds me of a mouth-watering semi-final of the 2010 T20 World Cup in St Lucia, where the Aussies won by 3 wickets in the final over.

Ahead of the semi-final clash, the 39-year-old Malik said playing Australia will be a tough challenge and it gives him “butterflies”, but insisted they will approach the game as a normal match.

Malik said after the match on Sunday, “Of course, we are watching Australia play good cricket and so are we, so it will be a tough match for both teams. It will be a tough challenge for both teams and will give us butterflies but that is always encouraging.”

He added, “We will take the semi-final as just another game and I think if we do that then we will be able to plan things in a better way. We will have a good rest, we are the form team so we need to plan well for the semi-final and this rest will surely help in doing that.”

On his own game, Shoaib said: “I’m enjoying cricket and keeping fit, always love to come to the ground and do my best for my country and today’s innings was like that, highly enjoyable and it helped the team.”

Malik wasn’t initially added in Pakistan’s T20 World Cup 2021 and he admitted that his exclusion had hurt him, as Sohaib Maqsood’s back injury opened the door for his return to the side.

He signed off by saying, “I was playing the Caribbean Premier League when the initial squad was announced and when my name was not there, it hurt but I had a way to get my frustration out as I was playing. Then I came back to Pakistan and did well in the National Twenty20 and luckily got selected, so I am happy that I am here and enjoying my time.”