Warner, Wade, Stoinis take Australia to first T20 WC final since 2010

Warner, Wade, Stoinis take Australia to first T20 WC final since 2010 | Acrux Sports

In a nutshell:

Pakistan had nearly everything - a good start with the bat, a flourish in the end, the highest score (then) in Dubai in the tournament, a first-over Shaheen wicket - except a measure of a vintage David Warner at the start, and ways to stop the Stoinis-Wade partnership at the end. Warner's 30-ball 49 set up the chase, and despite Shadab's best efforts, Pakistan had to finish second-best as Australia chased 62 off the last 24 balls to storm into the final of a men's T20 World Cup for the first time since 2010.

The Stoinis-Wade heist

Pakistan nearly had one leg already in the final when Marcus Stoinis and Matthew Wade came together, needing to hit 62 off the last five overs. It was an eerily similar equation to what New Zealand chased against England in the first semifinal, but Australia didn't have the luxury of a set batsman in the middle.

The pair smartly maneuvered the fields and wiped out 25 of those runs off Hasan Ali and Haris Rauf, but at 37 required of 18 - the task was still steep for the chasing side. Wade put the pressure squarely back on Pakistan with a 15-run 18th over when he carted a length ball from Hasan over long-on and then flicked a hit-me ball for a four. It was down to two set finishers vs Shaheen to decide the game, and the former edged it right there.

Shaheen started with a dot to Stoinis and then had an lbw appeal cancelled out by a review, but more importantly had only conceded a single. Third ball brought another opportunity for Pakistan to wrap up the fixture, but under pressure, Hasan dropped Wade at deep square leg. The wicketkeeper-batsman then pre-empted to perfection and played two ramp shots off full balls for sixes, interspersed with a clear-the-front-leg whack over cow corner to stun the Dubai crowd into silence. The hat trick of sixes meant Australia had polished off the chase with an over to spare. The assault was an uncanny throwback to the last time Australia made it to the final of a T20 World Cup, in 2010, beating Pakistan from an improbable situation in the semifinal.

Spare a thought for Shadab Khan?

Indeed. Shadab struck at four crucial junctures to keep pegging back Australia in chase, until Pakistan's bowling at the death let them down. He broke through right after the PowerPlay that Australia edged inspite of the start that saw Shaheen take out Aaron Finch for a first-ball duck. Mitchell Marsh, who'd already got his eye early on, fell while attempting to unsettle Shadab in his first over, miscuing a slog sweep to Asif Ali at long leg.

The problem for Pakistan was that Warner chose the penultimate step to glory to rekindle his devastating form that has been missing for a while. He smashed Shadab for a six at the start of his second over, but the leggie responded by taking out another batting partner of his, as Steve Smith mistimed a big hit now.

Shadab had the rub of the green when Warner chose not to review a caught-behind decision, even as replays showed there was daylight between his bat and the ball. But that incision ended Warner's murderous stay of 49 (30) and left Australia's soft middle-order with a tall ask.

Shadab wasn't done yet. Glenn Maxwell, who couldn't quite put away Imad Wasim, needed a release point. Shadab had a deep point stationed and tossed one ball up, and the Aussie batter reverse hit it straight down the fielder's throat there. At 96 for 5 in the 13th over, Australia's chase should've whimpered away, but up stepped Stoinis and Wade to set up a Trans-Tasman World Cup final.

About the first innings...

Pakistan before Zampa

Aaron Finch's advantage at the toss was nullified early by some flat bowling from his quicks. He went a bit left-field and tried to squeeze in one Glenn Maxwell over in the PowerPlay, against two very good players of spin in what was an unfavorable match-up. Both Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan picked a four each to get their innings going with the 10-run fourth over. Rizwan was a bit scratchy to begin with, but he shrugged that off in style - carting Josh Hazlewood for a six behind square leg. Without breaking much of a sweat, Pakistan cruised to 47/0 in 6 overs. This was the fourth time in six matches that Pakistan did not lose a single wicket in the first six overs. This was also only the second time Australia failed to pick a wicket in that phase.

The middle-overs and the Zampa impact

Adam Zampa's leg spin made the two Pakistan openers a touch circumspect as they were content to take just four singles in the seventh over. Finch could even get away with another from Maxwell that Azam and Rizwan couldn't truly capitalise on, instead picking six singles off it. Zampa continued to smartly pull his lengths back, eventually dragging Azam into a false shot, as he slogged one to David Warner at long on. Pakistan saw their batting curve take a downward turn, heading to 71/1 in 10 overs

 

The Rizwan-Zaman recovery

Just when Australia were starting to tighten their grip on the game, Rizwan turned the tables against their best bowler - Zampa. He slog swept the leggie over deep midwicket to become the first cricketer to go past 1000 runs in the format in this calendar year. It threw Zampa off his lengths, and a four byes ensued before culminating in a 14-run over. Starc returned and shook Rizwan up - quite literally - with a mean bouncer that struck him on the helmet and left him with bump on the left side of his head. But Rizwan responded by whacking a Hazlewood delivery disdainfully over deep midwicket to bring up his 32-ball half-century - his third of the tournament.

Zaman got going in Hazlewood's following over, which became Pakistan's springboard for a flying finish. Hazlewood went too full and was punished, and even unfurled a waist-high no-ball in a forgettable 21-run over in the 17th. Starc ended Rizwan's night on 67 off 52 in the following over, but Zaman - camping deep in his crease - had a lot more to offer. He got under a full ball and hit it for a big six, and then a straight whack for four off a full toss, that gave the umpire a reaction time of 0.68 seconds to duck out of the way.

Cummins tied down this menacing Zaman but Starc couldn't follow suit in the final over. He did Zaman a couple of favours by going full as the left-hander took full toll by sending them over long on to get to a 31-ball half-century. Matthew Hayden added to the incredulity of Rizwan's knock by revealing that the opener was in a hospital last night suffering with a lung condition.

Brief Scores: Pakistan 176/4 in 20 overs (Mohammad Rizwan 67, Fakhar Zaman 55*; Mitchell Starc 2-38) lost to Australia