New Delhi: In a moment of déjà vu, the second semifinal of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup ended with a similar run chase as the first one. After Mohammad Rizwan and Fakhar Zaman powered Pakistan to set a target of 176, Matthew Wade and Marcus Stoinis oscillated the game in Australia’s favour with just an over to spare and five wickets remaining.
Wade, who changed the tenor of the game with just three ramp shots out of the middle, was declared the man of the match for his unbeaten 41 off just 17 balls with a 241.18 strike rate at the Dubai International Stadium Thursday.
After winning the toss, Aussies called in the Men in Green to take the strike first. Pakistan skipper Babar Azam raced past India’s Virat Kohli to become the fastest player to score 2,500 T20 International runs.
Aaron Finch’s side will face their neighbours from Down Under on 14 November with Kane Williamson’s squad hoping to lift their first-ever World Cup trophy.
The googly of two overs
1st over, 19th over — the common element in both these match-turning overs of the second innings was Pakistan’s ace bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi. Known for dismantling the opponents’ batting lineup in the opening overs, often the first over itself, Afridi stuck to the brief and pinned Australian skipper LBW for a duck with a classic inswinger. In just six opening deliveries, the fast bowler laid bare Pakistan’s confidence and eagerness to bag the second semifinal to advance further.
However, if the first over was one for the books, the penultimate over of the match stumped Afridi. In comes Wade. After being dropped by Hassan Ali at deep midwicket off Afridi delivery, the Australian hard-hitter jumped across the stumps to score a six on the very next ball.
The left-handed batter did not let go of the momentum and smacked another six over square leg, reminding many of his senior Mike Hussey in the 2010 T20WC semifinal against Pakistan. With just six more runs needed to win, Wade sent the ball past the boundary yet again.
Afridi who kickstarted his T20WC journey by dismissing the likes of Rohit Sharma, K.L. Rahul and Virat Kohli ended his campaign by conceding three consecutive sixes to Wade. It all changed for him and Pakistan in just one over.
Brilliance of Shadab
Four wickets off 26 runs in four overs — these best-ever figures in a T20 World Cup semifinal were logged by Pakistani leg-spinner Shadab Khan.
In the second powerplay, when other bowlers were struggling to scalp wickets, Shadab not only took four wickets but also restricted the Australian batters from closing in the gap.
Interestingly, the most feared bowler in Pakistan’s arsenal — Afridi — ended up being the priciest, giving away 35 runs, with Wade causing the major dent.
In overall competent performance, the few places where Pakistan slipped cost them their first defeat in a T20I in UAE since 30 November 2015.
More than the much-hyped toss, it came down to who held on to their nerves under the pressure till the end.
New T20WC champion from Down Under
Although Australia has won several World Cup titles, they have failed to become the best T20 side in the world so far. Unlike them, New Zealand has been deprived of even one World Cup final win so far, with an exception of them being the World Test Champions.
India, Pakistan, England, Sri Lanka and West Indies have won the tournament’s previous editions. Now with all the previous champions out of the race, the new T20 world champion will emerge from Down Under.
Brief scores: Pakistan 176/4 (Mohammad Rizwan 67, Fakhar Azam 55, Mitchell Starc 2/38), Australia 177/5, 19 overs (David Warner 49, Mathew Wade 41, Shadab Khan 4/26)