Politicians, analysts hail Pakistan’s ‘clinical win’ against New Zealand in T20 World Cup semi-final

Published November 9, 2022
Pakistan’s cricketers celebrate after victory in the ICC men’s Twenty20 World Cup 2022 semi-final cricket match between New Zealand and Pakistan at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Sydney on November 9, 2022. — AFP
Pakistan’s cricketers celebrate after victory in the ICC men’s Twenty20 World Cup 2022 semi-final cricket match between New Zealand and Pakistan at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Sydney on November 9, 2022. — AFP

Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam slammed half-centuries as Pakistan powered past New Zealand by seven wickets and into the Twenty20 World Cup final Wednesday, moving within one win of a second title.

The 2009 champions will meet either England or India — who play on Thursday in Adelaide — in the November 13 decider at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

In front of 36,443 strongly pro-Pakistan spectators, Rizwan (57) and Azam (53) took apart the Black Caps’ renowned bowling attack in a 105-run opening stand, and despite a nervous finish after both fell, they completed a deserved victory with five balls to spare.

Pakistan last claimed the title in 2009 at Lord’s in England when they beat Sri Lanka by eight wickets, and it has been a rollercoaster ride in Australia to make another final.

After agonising last-ball losses to India and Zimbabwe in the group phase, they bounced back to topple the Netherlands and South Africa. Then against the odds they went through when the Proteas were stunned by the Dutch and Pakistan eased past Bangladesh.

New Zealand, who topped Group 1, were aiming to make the final for the second consecutive time, but their hunt for a maiden T20 title again fell short.

Teams batting first had won five from six games played in Sydney this tournament and when Kane Williamson won the toss he had no hesitation in asking Pakistan to bowl, but it proved to be tough going.

Here’s what fans in Pakistan, from politicians to analysts, had to say about today’s innings.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif described Pakistan’s performance today as “passion, commitment, and discipline”.

“Well done team Pakistan for an incredible comeback,” he tweeted.

President Arif Alvi lauded the team and congratulated Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, and Mohammad Haris for “excellent performances”.

“Green shirts you make us proud. On to the finals. Our best wishes to you, Inshallah (God willing) you will win,” he added.

The Army also congratulated the team for a “stellar performance” and wished the team luck for the finals.

PTI chairman Imran Khan congratulated Babar and the team.

Former minister Asad Umar said that the match today brought back memories from the 1992 World Cup.

British High Commissioner to Pakistan Christian Turner asked if the country would see a repeat of 1992.

Cricket veteran Shahid Afridi congratulated the team and hailed the skipper for “leading from the front”.

Indian cricket commentator and former cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar called Pakistan’s game today “near perfect”.

Pakistan cricket legend Wasim Akram said the team displayed a “clinical performance”.

Former women team’s captain Sana Mir said Pakistan were the first team to qualify for the T20 World Cup finals.

Former Indian Test fast bowler Irfan Pathan called Pakistan’s journey in the World Cup “admirable”.

Meanwhile, Indian cricket journalist Vikrant Gupta said Babar and Rizwan delivered on the day that mattered the most.

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