Ruthless Pakistan qualify for first T20 World Cup final in 13 years
Pakistan continued to improve and peak at the right time when they produced another ruthless, dominant and clinical performance to defeat New Zealand by seven wickets to qualify for their first ICC Men’s T20 World Cup final since lifting the trophy at Lord’s in 2009.
The bowlers, led by Shaheen Shah Afridi, bowled their hearts out and the fielders threw themselves around to save valuable runs by restricting New Zealand to 152 for four. Babar Azam and Mohamamd Rizwan then stroked their maiden half-centuries of this event and demonstrated why they are the most destructive and devastating T20I opening pair by putting on 105 runs in 12.4 overs – their ninth century stand in 51 matches – as Pakistan romped to victory with five balls to spare.
Pakistan’s chances of progressing in the event were ruled out by the critics and experts following heart-breaking last-ball losses to India and Zimbabwe. Nonetheless, Babar Azam’s side showed what they were capable and actually made of when they stormed back to defeat the Netherlands and South Africa.
After the Netherlands gave them a lease of life by defeating South Africa, Pakistan pounced on the opportunity to storm into the semifinals by first outclassing Bangladesh before routing New Zealand in front of a full-house at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Wednesday.
Pakistan’s fairytale run in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 has been identical to their ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 1992 campaign, when they had to beat Australia, Sri Lanka and New Zealand, and hope a couple of other results also go in their way so that they could reach the semifinals. It happened exactly how the doctor had ordered and Pakistan defeated New Zealand in the semi-final by four wickets and England in the final by 22 runs to lift their first major ICC title.
Sunday’s appearance in Melbourne against the winner of second semi-final between England and India will be Pakistan’s third participation in a T20 World Cup final. They had previously finished runners-up in Johannesburg in 2007, before winning at Lord’s two years later. Only Sri Lanka is the country that has featured in three T20 World Cup finals (2009, 2012 and 2014), while England, India and the West Indies have previously appeared in two finals each.
Chasing 153 for victory in 20 overs, Babar and Rizwan put behind below-par scores in the initial matches by providing Pakistan a solid and convincing 105-run opening start. Babar cashed in on the drop on the first ball by scoring a 42-ball 53 before holing out to Daryl Mitchell off Trent Boult. His innings included seven glorious boundaries.
Rizwan departed 27 runs later at the score of 132 in 17 overs after scoring a sublime 57 from 43 balls with five fours.
However, young Mohammad Haris continued to play the way he plays the best before falling two runs short of victory after scoring 30 off 26 balls with two fours and a six. This included 11 runs on the last three balls of the 18th over bowled by Lockie Ferguson after Pakistan had needed 19 runs from 15 balls.
Earlier, Shaheen Shah Afridi took the wicket of Finn Allen (four) on the third ball of his eventful first over for the seventh time in his T20I career and then added the prized scalp of Kane Williamson in his final over and 17th of the innings to finish with impressive figures of two for 24. This was a follow-up to four for 22 against Bangladesh that took his tally of wickets in his comeback event to 10 at an economy rate of 6.17.
In between the first and 17 overs, Pakistan bowlers stuck to the task, used the surface intelligently and were outstandingly supported by the fielders who showed tremendous agility, spark and alertness to restrict the New Zealand batters to 123 for four.
Naseem Shah conceded 10 and five runs in the 18th and 20th overs, respectively to finish with impressive figures of none for 30 and Haris Rauf gave away 11 in the penultimate over to end with figures of none for 32 as New Zealand managed 29 runs in the last three overs to finish at 152 for four.
Shadab Khan had led the pack in the field when he ran-out Devon Conway with a bullseye throw from mid-on to end New Zealand’s PowerPlay overs at 38 for two and subsequently finished his four-over spell conceding 33 runs. Mohammad Nawaz held a smart return catch to send Glenn Phillips (six) back in the dressing room with the scoreboard showing 49 for three in eight overs.
At that stage, Kane Williamson and Daryl Mitchell joined hands and added 68 runs in 50 balls for the fourth wicket to lift the New Zealanders, but were unable to dominate the disciplined and shrewd Pakistan bowlers, who between them conceded 10 fours and two sixes.
For the unfinished fifth wicket, Mitchell put on 35 runs in 22 balls with Jimmy Neesham, who contributed 16 in that stand.
Williamson’s 46 came off 42 balls and included a four and a six, while Mitchell struck three fours and a six in a 35-ball 53 not out. Conway’s 20-ball 21 included three fours.
Scores in brief
1st semi-final – Pakistan beat New Zealand by seven wickets
New Zealand 152-4, 20 overs (Daryl Mitchell 53 not out; Kane Williamson 46, Devon Conway 21, Jimmy Neesham 16 not out; Shaheen Shah Afridi 2-24)
Pakistan 153-3, 19.1 overs (Mohammad Rizwan 57, Babar Azam 53, Mohammad Haris 30; Trent Boult 2-33)
Player of the match – Mohammad Rizwan (Pakistan)
Next match – Final, vs England/India winner, Melbourne