England captain Jos Buttler says he has “certainly had a few dreams” about lifting the T20 World Cup ahead of Sunday’s final against Pakistan at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Buttler is hoping to become just the third man to lead England to a World Cup title, after Eoin Morgan did so in the 50-over version in 2019 and Paul Collingwood skippered his country to the T20 trophy in 2010.
England will become the first men’s side to hold both World Cup titles simultaneously if they beat Pakistan, who will be looking to repeat their 50-over triumph over England at the MCG in 1992.
At his pre-match press conference, Buttler said: “I’ve certainly had a few dreams about that kind of thing. I think it’s fine to think about those things and what it might feel like or what it would mean.
“It really links back to what you were like as a kid really, the kind of things you would be doing in the garden with your brother and sister, pretending to lift a trophy.
Ever since England lost to Ireland and then had the washout against Australia, they have known that defeat would be terminal. They feel that has sharpened their edge and brought their character out. They managed to play with flair and freedom against India and that’s what I expect to see against Pakistan.
“To be able to have the opportunity to have a chance to live that out is incredibly special. They’re certainly feelings I don’t feel like I need to try and block out or push away.
“You almost accept the noise that comes with a World Cup final. I don’t need to try and push it away and say it’s no
different. Of course it is.”
Wood, Malan ‘improving’ ahead of final
England retain hope that fast bowler Mark Wood (stiffness) and batter Dawid Malan (groin) could yet play in the final, which is due to begin at 8am UK time weather permitting.
Both players missed Thursday’s 10-wicket demolition of India at Adelaide Oval – Chris Jordan replacing Wood and Phil Salt coming in for Malan.
But Buttler says the duo are “improving”, with Wood seemingly bowling at full tilt for a couple of overs in the nets and Malan undertaking an extended batting session.
The captain added: “It’s not too many days since not being fit enough for the semi-final, but we’ll give them every chance possible.”
Wood’s return would give England an injection of pace – something Pakistan have with the likes of Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf.
Buttler said: “Pakistan are a fantastic team. They have a very long history of producing excellent fast bowlers and I see the team that we’re up against as no different.
“I’m sure by the end of their careers, some of the guys who we’ll play against will go down as some of the best bowlers Pakistan have produced. We expect a really tough challenge.”
Babar: Dream come true to be in the final
Pakistan lost their first two matches in the tournament as they suffered last-ball defeats to India and Zimbabwe, while they needed a shock win for Netherlands over South Africa to reach the knockout stages.
Skipper Babar Azam, who ended a lean run of form with a half-century in Wednesday’s seven-wicket win over New Zealand in the semi-finals, says it is a “dream come true” for Pakistan to be in the final after the start they had.
He said: “We couldn’t start off well but we came back with great momentum.
“In the previous three or four matches, we have played very well on both an individual and team level. We’ve been working really hard for this. It feels like a dream come true to reach the final.
“I’m more excited than nervous since we’ve performed well in our last three matches. Our strategy is to stick to our plan and use our pace attack as our strength to win the final. Utilising the powerplay to grab as many wickets will be essential.
“The Pakistan nation has always been our backbone. They uphold us through their enthusiasm. I would again request them to support us and keep praying.”
Babar also praised the role Pakistan’s middle order have played in their four-match winning streak amid his own struggles, adding: “Great pressure is built upon you when you are under a spell of not scoring well. Although I couldn’t perform well, the rest of the team performance kept me motivated.
“I’d like to commend the middle order, they stepped up and took the responsibility to achieve what me and (Mohammad) Rizwan couldn’t. Iftikhar (Ahmed), Shadab (Khan) and (Mohammad) Haris have played extremely well.”
Buttler: 2019 final will help England
Sunday’s final could be disrupted by rain with the forecast in Melbourne looking grim and that remains the case for Monday’s reserve day. If a 10-over-a-side game cannot be completed across the two days, the trophy will be shared.
With potential “chaos”, Buttler says England will be able to draw on their dramatic victory over New Zealand on boundary countback in the 2019 50-over World Cup final at Lord’s.
He added: “Any experiences that you can draw on, good or bad, you will have learned from those and reflect on those in situations of adversity or a bit of chaos. In a World Cup final, there’s a good chance of things like that happening.
“The more experience you’ve got of being able to understand those feelings and how to react to them, I definitely see as a benefit.
“The weather is something we cannot control and whatever does happen, we must be ready to go in whatever sense that is.”
Watch England vs Pakistan in the T20 World Cup final live on Sky Sports Cricket on Sunday. Build-up gets under way at 7am ahead of an 8am start at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.