DUBAI: Matthew Wade smacked three successive sixes off Pakistan’s Shaheen Afridi in the penultimate over and lifted Australia into the Twenty20 World Cup final with a dramatic five-wicket victory on Thursday.
Wade crushed Pakistan hopes in a stunning display of power-hitting against Pakistan’s premier fast bowler as Australia cruised to 177-5 with an over to spare.
Pakistan had their chance but Hasan Ali dropped a regulation catch of the left-hander Wade at mid-wicket just before Shaheen was hit for three sixes.
Wade made an unbeaten 41 off just 17 balls and Marcus Stoinis supported him superbly with 40 off 31 balls as both batsmen shared a match-winning 81-run partnership off just 40 balls after Australia were in trouble at 96-5.
“It was a great game of cricket. The way Matthew Wade held his nerve was outstanding, that partnership with Marcus Stoinis was crucial,” said Australia captain Aaron Finch after his team booked a place in Sunday’s final against New Zealand and stayed on course to win the only major global trophy that has eluded them.
David Warner also played a major role with 49 before being caught behind off leg-spinner Shadab Khan who took four wickets.
“The way we started in the first half, we got the total we targeted,” said Pakistan skipper Babar Azam. “But we gave them too much of a chance at the end of the chase. If we had taken that catch, it might have made the difference.”
Pakistan had stormed into the last four as the only team with a perfect record in the group stage.
“The way we played this tournament, the way we gelled, I’m very satisfied as a captain,” said Babar.
Earlier, Mohammad Rizwan and Fakhar Zaman smashed breezy half-centuries to help Pakistan post 176-4.
Rizwan, who top-scored with 67, and Fakhar, who hit an unbeaten 55 off 32 deliveries, put on 72 for the second wicket after Pakistan were put into bat.
Rizwan’s opening stand of 71 with skipper Babar, who made 39, unsettled the Australian bowling in the first six overs of powerplay.
Leg-spinner Adam Zampa broke the opening stand after sending back Babar, who has amassed 303 runs to lead the tournament’s batting chart, caught at long-on following his 34-ball knock laced with five fours.
Rizwan kept up the attack and smashed Zampa for a six to become the first player to aggregate 1,000 runs in T20 internationals in a calendar year.
He survived a hit on the helmet grill by a quick bouncer from Pat Cummins as the physio came in to conduct a concussion test with the batsman smiling.
A six and a single off pace bowler Josh Hazlewood brought up his fifty in 41 balls with Fakhar at the other end before he exploded as well.
Rizwan finally fell to Mitchell Starc while trying to force the pace and was caught at mid-off, ending an attacking partnership that came in 46 balls.
Fakhar finished off the innings with two sixes in the final over from Starc who took two wickets.
Australia suffered an early blow when Shaheen trapped Finch lbw for nought as the Pakistan-dominated crowd erupted.
The in-form Warner kept up the attack from one end with support from Mitchell Marsh.
But Shadab turned up the heat in the seventh over to get Marsh out for 28. The leg-spinner struck in each of his four overs to claim the big wickets of Steve Smith, for five, Warner, and Glenn Maxwell, for seven to rip the heart out of Australia’s top order.
Warner walked when he was caught behind after hitting three fours and three sixes in his 30-ball stay but replays later showed there was no contact off the batsman’s bat.
Stoinis kept Australia in the hunt with his fluent knock while Wade initially struggled to middle the ball and was lucky when Hasan dropped him at deep mid-wicket. He then produced a scoop shot, a full-blooded pull and another scoop, each of them going for six to silence the Pakistan fans in the stands.
“When I got out there with Marcus, he was really confident we’d get them, even though I was a little unsure,” admitted Wade. “He found the boundaries early on, and I was happy to chip in at the end.”
Batsmen & mode of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR
Mohammad Rizwan c Smith b Starc 67 52 3 4 128.84 Babar Azam c Warner b Zampa 39 34 5 0 114.70 Fakhar Zaman not out 55 32 3 4 171.87 Asif Ali c Smith b Cummins 0 1 0 0 00 Shoaib Malik b Starc 1 2 0 0 50.00 Mohammad Hafeez not out 1 1 0 0 100.00
EXTRAS (B-5, LB-1, NB-2, W-5) 13 TOTAL (for four wickets, 20 overs) 176 FALL OF WICKETS: 1-71 (Babar), 2-143 (Rizwan), 3-158 (Asif), 4-162 (Malik). DID NOT BAT: Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Hasan Ali, Haris Rauf, Shaheen Shah Afridi. BOWLING: Starc 4-0-38-2 (1w), Hazlewood 4-0-49-0 (1w, 1nb), Maxwell 3-0-20-0, Cummins 4-0-30-1 (1w, 1nb), Zampa 4-0-22-1 (1w), Marsh 1-0-11-0 (1w).
Batsmen & mode of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR D. Warner c Rizwan b Shadab 49 30 3 3 163.33 A. Finch lbw Shaheen 0 1 0 0 00 M. Marsh c Asif b Shadab 28 22 3 1 127.27 S. Smith c Fakhar b Shadab 5 6 1 0 83.33 G. Maxwell c Haris b Shadab 7 10 0 0 70.00 M. Stoinis not out 40 31 2 2 129.03 M. Wade not out 41 17 2 4 241.17 EXTRAS (LB-2, NB-3, W-2) 7 TOTAL (for five wickets, 19.0 overs) 177 FALL OF WICKETS: 1-1 (Finch), 2-52 (Marsh), 3-77 (Smith), 4-89 (Warner), 5-96 (Maxwell). DID NOT BAT: P. Cummins, M. Starc, A. Zampa, J. Hazlewood. BOWLING: Shaheen 4-0-35-1 (1w, 1nb), Imad 3-0-25-0, Haris 3-0-32-0, Hasan 4-0-44-0 (1nb), Shadab 4-0-26-4, Hafeez 1-0-13-0 (1w, 1nb). RESULT: Australia won by five wickets. UMPIRES: Christopher Gaffaney (New Zealand) and Richard Kettleborough (England). TV UMPIRE: Joel Wilson (West Indies). MATCH REFEREE: Jeffrey Crowe (New Zealand). PLAYER-OF-THE-MATCH: Matthew Wade (Australia).
Published in Dawn, November 12th, 2021