After close to a month of riveting action, the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022 will culminate with the summit clash between Pakistan and England at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Sunday, November 13.
Both teams have experienced a rollercoaster ride into the title clash but have entered the same on the back of convincing semi-final victories. While Pakistan humbled New Zealand by seven wickets, England annihilated India by 10 wickets to set up a repeat of the 1992 ODI World Cup final, incidentally at the same venue.
One of England's stars who will be in action on Sunday is all-rounder and vice-captain Moeen Ali. While he hasn't had much of a role to play in their campaign thus far, there is no doubt that he will be counted upon to deliver the goods if required.
There are a few aspects that cast him in the spotlight ahead of the T20 World Cup final on Sunday. We take a look at them and assess how Moeen could just make or break England's hopes of a second T20 World Cup title.
#1 Countering Shadab Khan's threat
One of the nine nominees for the Player of the Tournament award, Shadab Khan has been at his irresistible best for Pakistan at the T20 World Cup. With 10 wickets at an economy rate of 6.59, he has been clinical in breaking partnerships and tying down batters in the middle overs.
This is where Moeen could be the counter to that threat, given his prowess as a spin-hitter. Add a favorable head-to-head against Shadab and that puts him at the forefront of this matchup. For the record, Moeen strikes at a rate of 177.8 in T20Is while being dismissed twice for 48 runs against the ace leg-spinner.
Should the pace barrage at the other end bombard Moeen, pairing him with a pace-hitter will offer England a complementary partnership to counter whatever is thrown at them. The Englishmen are blessed with gunslingers aplenty and promoting the vice-captain up the order makes perfect sense for the T20 World Cup final.
#2 Moeen's off-spinners - a favorable matchup against Pakistan's batting line-up
Shan Masood and Mohammad Nawaz may be the only two left-handed batters in the Pakistan line-up, but that doesn't put Moeen out of having a say by any stretch. A closer look at the numbers will tell you that the Men in Green prefer facing wrist-spin as opposed to right-arm off-spin.
Babar Azam strikes at a rate of 118.39 against this style of bowling in T20Is. The corresponding numbers read 108.75 for Mohammad Rizwan and 81.63 for Iftikhar Ahmed, even though Shadab bosses this particular aspect with a strike rate of 152.77.
Moeen has sent down a mere two overs thus far in this T20 World Cup. Given how England have shown a proclivity towards matchups and data over time, he could have a lot more bowling to do in the final in Melbourne.
#3 His impactful cameos tend to be game-changing
The term 'impact' is often used in T20 cricket and very few define the term as well as Moeen does. He might be mercurial, but he has shown a tendency to blow the opposition out of the water at the most crucial junctures.
While he has a natural flair and bat swing that aids his cause, his bowling often slips under the radar at the cost of not being viewed as a major threat. Mind you, that probably makes him as big a threat as there can be and Pakistan will do well to tackle him well across departments.
Be it a brisk 20-run cameo or a partnership-breaking wicket, these are the small moments that go on to have a huge impact in the context of a T20 contest. Moeen has the capability to don either role and could just make or break England's hopes of lifting the T20 World Cup trophy on Sunday with the same.
Which other player do you think will define the T20 World Cup final and where it heads? Let us know in the comments section below!
Poll : Which team will be crowned champions of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022?