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Australia reach the final, defeat Pakistan by 5 wickets

| Updated: November 14, 2021 15:01:51

Photo: ESPNCricinfo Photo: ESPNCricinfo

Australia won the second semi-final with 5 wickets and carried themselves to the final against New Zealand on the 14th in Dubai. 

In response to the target of 177 runs, Australia had a nervy start with 13/1 on the board after three overs as Shaheen Shah Afridi bowled an unplayable couple of overs swinging the ball late at a serious pace.

After watching their captain Aaron Finch going back in the hut for a golden duck, David Warner and Mitchell Marsh weathered the prevailing storm and got their team back in the chase. After the powerplay, they were 52/1. 

From then on, it was a cat and mouse game between the Aussie batters and Shadab Khan. As Australia kept on stitching small partnerships, Shadab kept on producing breakthroughs well before any of those partnerships could flourish.

He basically broke the backbone of the Aussies, removing four of their best batters - Marsh (28 off 22), Smith (5 off 6), Warner (49 off 30), and Maxwell (7 off 10) - one in each over.

He bowled his four overs on the trot as he finished with a spell of 4/26. In that process, Shadab claimed the best ever figures for anyone in a T20 World Cup semi-final (surpassing Umar Gul’s 3/15 vs NZ in 2007). At that point, Australia were 103/5 in 13 overs. 

The next three overs yielded 24 runs as Marnus Stoinis and Matthew Wade tried to get Australia back in the game. The Aussies required 50 runs in the last four overs to meet the Kiwis in the grand finale. 

The pair scored 28 runs in the next two overs - 13 off Haris Rauf and 15 off Hasan Ali - dragging Australia to the driver’s seat. 

The onus was on Shaheen to show his magic once again, which he did in the third delivery of the penultimate over only to have Hasan Ali slip the opportunity. After getting that life, Wade did not need any second invitation as he struck 3 back-to-back sixes to finish the game off in supreme style. 

Stoinis and Wade remained unbeaten with 40 runs (31 balls) and 41 runs (17 balls) respectively. 

At the outset, Australia won the all-important toss, one that was always going to be very crucial considering the track record of Dubai - 10 wins out 11 matches for teams batting second. Both the teams came into the game with their respective winning combinations. 

Given the advantage the chasing teams get at Dubai, Pakistan needed a great start to lay the solid foundation required to post a challenging total for the Aussies.

The opening pair of Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan ensured just that, scoring 47 runs during the powerplay without any damage - the best powerplay score for Pakistan in this tournament so far (surpassing 43/0 against India).

The middle overs were always supposed to be interesting with Australia’s best bowler Adam Zampa and the fifth bowling options getting into the attack.

Zampa made his presence felt straight away, removing Bazar Azam (39 off 34) at the expense of only seven runs in his first two overs. Halfway through, Pakistan were 71/1. 

Within the eleventh over, captain Finch managed to sneak through the four overs of the fifth bowler with three from Maxwell and one from Marsh. Australia would definitely be delighted as they got away with this weak link for only 31 runs. 

In the last ball of the fourteenth over, Rizwan reached his half-century in 41 deliveries - third in this World Cup and tenth overall this year. 

While accelerating, Rizwan (67 off 52) got dismissed to Starc in the second delivery of the eighteenth over. Pakistan were 143/2 at that point. Fakhar Zaman ensured that the wicket did not create any hindrance in the acceleration as he himself added 14 runs in the same over. 

The penultimate over started with the dismissal of Asif Ali who failed to continue his amazing six-hitting form for a golden duck.

The following delivery had Fakhar have a life as Smith failed to grab two out of two in the long on/off region. Cummins, however, persisted with his exhibition of intelligent death bowling, giving away only 3 runs in that over. 

Starc started the last over well, allowing only 2 runs in the first three balls including the dismissal of Shoaib Malik.

But then, Fakhar Zaman started making Australia pay for the dropped catch as he scored 13 runs, including two sixes, in the remaining three balls. He remained unbeaten at 55 runs off just 32 deliveries. 

Aussie wicket-keeper Matthew Wade claimed the Player of the Match award for the finishing touches he provided with an unbeaten 41 at a strike rate of 241.17.

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