Dubai: Riding on the outstanding batting performances from Matthew Wade, Marcus Stoinis and David Warner, Australia thrashed Pakistan by five wickets in a thrilling semifinal clash to reach the final of the 2021 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup at the Dubai International Stadium, here on Thursday.
Australia will now face New Zealand in the final, scheduled to be played on Sunday. Earlier, Kiwis had registered a brilliant victory over 2016 runners up England in the first semifinal of the tournament on Wednesday.
Fantastic fifties by Mohammad Rizwan (67 off 52) and Fakhar Zaman (55 off 32) powered Pakistan to 176-4. Apart from Rizwan and Zaman, Babar Azam (39 off 34) also made valuable contributions with the bat for Pakistan while Mitchell Starc (2/38) was the most successful bowler for Australia.
Chasing a challenging total, Australia were hit with Shaheen Shah Afridi at his very best in the opening over, with Finch falling for a first-ball duck and Mitchell Marsh surviving a tight LBW review off the next delivery.
Marsh came to the crease after the early fall of Finch and, after surviving Afridi’s opening spell, joined forces with Warner to lift Australia to 52/1 at the end of the Powerplay. But the introduction of Shadab after the powerplay ended the partnership as Mitchell Marsh (28 off 22)miscued to Asif Ali in the deep.
Steve Smith, who came to bat next, also fell to Shadab soon after, scoring just five from six. Yet Warner kept the scoring going, with occasional boundaries.
Warner (49 off 30) looked to be taking the game away from Pakistan it was Shadab again who brought his team back into the game. The Aussie opener edged a Shadab googly behind and the bowler and Rizwan raced away in celebration and a furious Warner walked off, with the umpire raising his finger.
But replays suggested Warner had not connected with the ball, meaning there must have been some other movement or click, potentially in the bat handle, that confused everyone. From there on, Stoinis (40 off 31) and Wade kept Australia in the game with regular boundaries.
The equation for Australia was strikingly similar to New Zealand’s in the first semi-final, with over 50 runs required off the final four overs. The big hits kept flowing for Australia while a crucial catch wasn’t taken in the deep as Hasan Ali put down Wade. And Wade (41 off 17) took full advantage of that drop, hitting Afridi for a superb ramped six, then whipping him into the stands over midwicket, and then sealing the win with another ramp as the 19th over went for 22 runs.
Earlier, batting first, openers Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan gave Pakistan a flying start. Continuing their fine run of form, Babar and Rizwan played attacking cricket and took their team to 47/0 at the end of 6 overs.
During the powerplay, Rizwan got few chances as well. In the 3rd over, the opener went for a big hit off Glenn Maxwell and miscued it, but Warner, running backwards and watching the ball drop over his shoulder, couldn’t hold onto the catch and watched as it trickled away for four.
Pakistan had another lucky break off the final ball of that Powerplay, when Adam Zampa got his hands to what would have been a spectacular catch in the deep, but couldn’t hold on to remove Rizwan.
The leg-spinner Zampa finally gave Australia the much-needed break-through as the Pakistan captain fell off the final ball before the drinks break. Azam (39 off 34) looked to clear long on but failed and was caught in the deep, with Pakistan 71/1 after ten overs.
Babar’s wicket didn’t affect Rizwan and he kept on hitting boundaries at regular intervals. However, his partner Fakhar Zaman didn’t look in great touch at the other hand, and was playing run a ball innings. Rizwan, who was hit on the helmet, brought his half-century in the 14th over of the innings. It was his 11th T20I fifty, third of the tournament and 10th half-century in 2021.
With so many wickets in hand, the duo of Rizwan and Fakhar shifted gears and took Hazlewood to cleaners, scoring 21 runs in 17th over. However, Starc dismissed Rizwan in the first ball of the 18th over and the next batters Asif Ali and Shoaib Malik were also dismissed cheaply.
Australia blew hot and cold with their bowling as Cummins bowled an economical 19th over but Starc conceded 15 runs off the final over. Zaman showed his power hitting skills and hit Starc for two sixes and took Pakistan to 176/4 in 20 overs.