Australia trump Pakistan to reach the finals
Australia made yet another final in a world event, courtesy of some blitz from Wade and Stoinis, by beating Pakistan by 5 wickets and just like their neighbours down under, finished the game off with one over to spare.
Pakistan had been the most dominant team throughout this tournament coming into this game. Something, not least, England and Newzealand pulling out from their tour to Pakistan at the last moment, had ignited this Pakistani squad to bring out their best into this world cup.
They had to make a statement to the cricketing world that they're not gonna be bullied. They're not gonna be played tricks with. They didn't want sympathy. They wanted to be respected. And by their sheer brilliant performances, they commanded respect. If beating India by 10 wickets wasn't enough of a statement, making it to the semis without dropping a game, certainly was. They had only two more hurdles to get past. But they faltered at the penultimate one.
On a good batting strip, Aussie skipper Aaron Finch decided he'll continue with the successful trend of chasing. The most successful opening pair in this tournament of Babar and Rizwan, put on a solid stand in this big game two, but not without getting help from a couple of dropped chances from Warner and Zampa. With the score on 71 for 1 after ten and Babar back in the hut, the game was in balance, if not tilted slightly towards the Aussies.
Coming in at 3, Fakhar had the license to cut loose from ball one. And he tried to do the same but couldn't really connect anything. He struggled hard to even rotate the strike. His partner Rizwan, who was well set, took over the role of the aggressor and started smacking bowlers all over the leg side. His slogs and sweep-pulls were on full display as he targeted the short boundary. Before getting out on 67, he had smacked 4 sixes and Pakistan were on for a big one.
Soon after Rizwan got out, it was Fakhar's turn to go big. And he did so beautifully. Although a couple of wickets fell in quick succession at the other end, Zaman just kept getting back in his crease and butchering balls into the leg side. With the help of two massive sixes in the last over of Starc, Fakhar reached his fifty in style and also helped Pakistan reach a formidable total of 177 in a crunch game.
Chasing a pretty big target, Aussies first had to get through the fiery spell of Shaheen Afridi without much damage. But it took all of one delivery for Afridi to trap the Aussie skipper Finch right in front. Another demolition of the batting line up from the left arm sensation was on the cards. But Mitch Marsh and David Warner weathered the storm in the first three overs and made sure no further inroads were made. In a total contrast to the first three overs, they took a heavy toll of the bowling in the next three and stole 39 in the next three to the powerplay on 52 for 1.
David Warner was looking to take the game away from the Pakistanis before he got out caught behind on 49. Surprisingly enough, the replays showed Warner missing the ball by a fair distance and he didn't even think to review it. That too with two reviews still left ! In another wow moment, Mohammed Hafeez bowled (didn't bowl) a delivery that bounced twice, off which Warner took full toll by depositing it into the stands.
It was looking all too easy for Australia once Shaheen was out of the attack. But Shadab was yet to bowl. As soon as he came on to bowl, the game tilted massively towards Pakistan as he bagged a wicket in every over that he bowled. He bagged the wickets of Marsh, Smith, Warner and Maxwell in the 7th,9th, 11th and 13th overs of the innings respectively to put the brakes on the scoring.
Just like in yesterday's game, Australia needed 62 from the final five with Stoinis and Wade at the crease. But unlike Newzealand had with Mitchell, the Aussies didn't have a set batter to take them through. But as it turned out, they didn't need one. Both the batters used their muscle power to great effect to dismantle some mediocre death bowling from the Pakistani bowlers.
With 22 needed off the last two, Babar handed the ball to his best bet : Shaheen Afridi. He responded well with three good deliveries, out of which one was a dropped chance. But as soon as he got a reprieve, something got on to Matthew Wade as brought out his two best shots out of his repertoire and scored three maximums out of them to seal the deal for his team. He scooped the fourth one over fine leg for six and then slogged one into the stands towards deep mid on the fifth .
And fittingly enough, with six to get, Wade scooped one right behind the keeper for yet another six to achieve a massive victory. Hasan Ali was having one of the worst days with the ball and in the field. Apart from giving 27 in his final two overs, he dropped an important catch of Matthew Wade in the nineteenth over, which potentially could've turned the game once again.
Brief Scores: Pakistan 176/4 in 20 overs (Mohammad Rizwan 67, Fakhar Zaman 55*; Mitchell Starc 2-38) lost to Australia