Marcus Stoinis and Matthew Wade launched a spectacular attack in the final overs as Australia shocked Pakistan in the second semifinal of the ICC T20 World Cup at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Thursday.
Chasing a daunting target of 177, Aaron Finch’s men looked down and out when they slid to 96 for five in the 13th over. Stoinis (40 n.o., 31b, 2x4, 2x6) and Wade (41 n.o., 17b, 2x4, 4x6) scripted a dramatic turnaround, putting on 81 for the unbroken sixth wicket off just 6.4 overs. The highest successful chase of this edition saw Australia enter the World T20 final for the first time since 2010.
With 50 needed in four overs, Stoinis took 13 runs with a six and a four off pacer Haris Rauf. In the next over, Wade went after Hasan Ali, smashing a six and a four as 15 came off it. Shaheen Afridi, one of the stars of Pakistan’s campaign in the World Cup, bowled his final over with 22 required off 12.
The left-arm pacer started off with a dot ball before Wade, making full use of the dropped catch by Hasan at deep midwicket off the third delivery, hit three consecutive sixes. Wade started with an audacious scoop over short fine-leg, anticipating a yorker, before whipping the ball over the midwicket fence. He sealed it in style with another scoop that sailed over the wicketkeeper and into the stands, triggering celebrations in the Aussie camp. At the top of the order, David Warner (49, 30b, 3x4, 3x6) had provided the impetus before leg-spinner Shadab Khan seemed to have turned it Pakistan’s way with a wicket in each of his four overs (4-0-26-4).
Earlier, Mohammad Rizwan (67, 52b, 3x4, 4x6) and skipper Babar Azam (39, 34b, 5x4) continued their dream run at the top, forging an alliance of 71 in 10 overs. Fakhar Zaman (55 n.o., 32b, 3x4, 4x6) was at his explosive best as Pakistan made 176 for four after being invited to bat. The Aussies’ dream of winning their maiden T20 World crown since no team has successfully overhauled a target bigger than 171.
If Babar called the shots in PowerPlay, Rizwan came to the party in the middle overs after being tied down by the spinners. Fakhar then showed his power-hitting prowess, sending the Australian pacers into the stands to ensure that the innings finished with a flourish despite a quiet 19th over (three runs).
The moment Babar timed his trademark cover drive to perfection off Josh Hazlewood in the second over, it was clear that Pakistan meant business. The skipper scored a boundary each in the first four overs.
Rizwan was lucky when he was twice dropped by the Australian fielders — David Warner and Adam Zampa — who could not latch on to tough catches in the outfield. The opener made Aaron Finch’s men pay for it as he pulled Hazlewood for a six and whipped Pat Cummins through square-leg to take the side to 47 for no loss in the PowerPlay.
Adam Zampa, the in-form leggie, and Glenn Maxwell had put the brakes before Babar miscued a lofted shot to long-on at the halfway mark.
After leggie Adam Zampa and off-spinner Glenn Maxwell applied the brakes on the scoring rate, Rizwan broke the shackles in the 12th over with a slog-sweep off Zampa that went for six. He then targeted Hazlewood, scoring 27 off 13 deliveries.
Fakhar, after getting hit on the helmet by Mitchell Starc, waded into the left-arm pacer with two successive sixes over long-on in the final over. However, it wasn’t enough once Stoinis and Wade got into the act.
It will be a tantalising trans-Tasman final between Australia and New Zealand on Sunday.
PAKISTAN: Mohammad Rizwan c Smith b Starc 67 (52b, 3x4, 4x6), Babar Azam c Warner b Zampa 39 (34b, 5x4), Fakhar Zaman (not out) 55 (32b, 3x4, 4x6), Asif Ali c Smith b Cummins 0 (1b), Shoaib Malik b Starc 1 (2b), Mohammad Hafeez (not out) 1 (1b); Extras (b-5, lb-1, w-5, nb-2): 13.
Total (for four wkts. in 20 overs): 176.
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-71 (Babar, 9.6 overs), 2-143 (Rizwan, 17.2), 3-158 (Asif, 18.1), 4-162 (Malik, 19.2).
AUSTRALIA BOWLING: Starc 4-0-38-2, Hazlewood 4-0-49-0, Maxwell 3-0-20-0, Cummins 4-0-30-1, Zampa 4-0-22-1, Marsh 1-0-11-0.
AUSTRALIA: David Warner c Rizwan b Shadab 49 (30b, 3x4, 3x6), Aaron Finch lbw b Afridi 0 (1b), Mitchell Marsh c Asif b Shadab 28 (22b, 3x4, 1x6), Steve Smith c Fakhar b Shadab 5 (6b, 1x4), Glenn Maxwell c Rauf b Shadab 7 (10b), Marcus Stoinis (not out) 40 (31b, 2x4, 2x6), Matthew Wade (not out) 41 (17b, 2x4, 4x6); Extras (lb-2, w-2, nb-3): 7.
Total (for five wkts. in 19 overs): 177.
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-1 (Finch, 0.3), 2-52 (Marsh, 6.2), 3-77 (Smith, 8.3), 4-89 (Warner, 10.1), 5-96 (Maxwell, 12.2).
PAKISTAN BOWLING: Afridi 4-0-35-1, Imad 3-0-25-0, Rauf 3-0-32-0, Hasan 4-0-44-0, Shadab 4-0-26-4, Hafeez 1-0-13-0.
Toss: Australia; MoM: Wade.
Australia won by five wickets with six balls to spare.