Sydney: Star batters Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan found form at the right moment, smashing key half-centuries to help Pakistan cruise into the final of the ICC T20 World Cup after defeating New Zealand by seven wickets in the first semifinal at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Wednesday. Men in Green will play either India or England in the final of the tournament.
Chasing 153, Pakistan was off to a fine start. Openers Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan seemed to be in good touch. The duo took star bowlers Trent Boult and Tim Southee to attack, smashing them for boundaries.
The duo brought up their 50-run partnership in just 5.4 overs. At the end of six overs of the powerplay, Pakistan stood at 55/0, with Mohammad Rizwan (28*), Babar Azam (25*). Kiwis did not seem to have any answers for Azam-Rizwan’s batting as runs kept pouring.
At the end of 10 overs, Pakistan stood at 87/0, with Azam (43*) and Rizwan (41*) unbeaten still. Azam brought up his 30th half-century in the shortest format in just 38 balls with a couple. Pakistan reached the 100-run mark in 11.5 overs. Pacer Boult produced the breakthrough for Kiwis, dismissing skipper Azam for 53 off 42 balls after he was caught by Daryl Mitchell at long-on.
Mohammad Haris was the next up on crease and he hammered Boult over mid-off on his second ball. Rizwan continued to score, bringing up his 23rd T20I fifty. The duo continued to tick the scoreboard. At the end of 15 overs, Pakistan was 122/1, with Rizwan (54*) and Haris (11*) unbeaten. Boult got his second wicket in the match in the 17th over as Rizwan was caught by Glenn Phillips in the covers region.
The batter departed after a well-made 57 off 43 consisting of five fours. Shan Masood arrived to the crease, with responsibility to finish the match. Spinner Santner picked up the wicket of Haris at the last ball of the 19th over for 30 off 26 balls. Pakistan needed two runs in the final over. Iftikhar Ahmed was on the crease.
They finished their innings at 153/3 in 19.1 overs, with Masood (3*) and Iftikhar (0*) unbeaten. Boult (2/33) was the pick of the bowlers for New Zealand. Santner also took a wicket. Earlier, Daryl Mitchell carried his bat through the innings, scoring an unbeaten fifty to guide New Zealand to 152/4 after a top-order collapse against Pakistan in the first semi-final of the T20 World Cup at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Wednesday.
Opting to bat first, New Zealand openers Devon Conway and Finn Allen walked out to start the innings for their team. The inning got off to an action-packed first over with Allen smashing a boundary on the first ball, surviving a leg-before-wicket call on the second and finally getting dismissed on the third. Conway struck two boundaries to Nassem Shah in the second over to get things started for Pakistan and himself.
Captain Kane Williamson looked to push the ball into the gaps and keep the scoreboard ticking amidst impressive bowling from the Pakistani bowlers. New Zealand looked set to end the powerplay with just one wicket down but Shadab Khan’s brilliance on the field cost the Kiwis Conway’s wicket after the batter set out for a risky single on the last ball of the sixth over.
The team ended the powerplay with 38/2.Explosive batter Glenn Phillips did smash Shadab Khan for a boundary in the seventh over but got dismissed by Mohammad Nawaz after chipping a simple catch to the bowler in the eighth over.
Middle-order batter Daryl Mitchell joined Williamson in a quest to steady the Kiwi innings and took the team to 59/3 at the end of the halfway mark.Things looked quiet for New Zealand until Mohammad Wasim came to bowl in the 13th over. Williamson finally broke the shackles and smashed a six in the over to inject some much-needed momentum into the innings.
The aggression rubbed off on Mitchell as he too launched a massive six to Shadab, bringing up the half-century stand with his captain for the team. Pakistan’s ace pacer Shaheen Afridi came back to bowl the 15th over in search of wickets but was caressed for a four by the Kiwi captain towards fine-leg. After a slow start in the first 10 overs, New Zealand was able to score 47 runs from overs 11 to 15, staging a comeback.
Afridi continued his spell and came back in the 17th over to bowl the last over of his quota and removed the Kiwi captain to uproot the crucial 4th wicket 68-run partnership from 56 balls. The Kiwi team managed to secure 29 runs from the last three overs, ending their 20 overs at 152/4 with Mitchell playing an unbeaten knock of 53 runs. Shaheen Afridi was the pick of the bowlers picking up two wickets for his side.
Brief Score: New Zealand 152/4 (Daryl Mitchell 53*, Kane Williamson 46; Shaheen Afridi 2-24) vs Pakistan: 153/3 in 19.1 overs (Mohammad Rizwan 57, Babar Azam 53, Trent Boult 2/33).