By Ehsan Qureshi in Dubai
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
Incredible batting display by left-handed Matthew Wade spearheaded Australia into the final of the 6th edition of the ICC T20 World Cup when they overpowered Pakistan by five wickets in a tensely fought semifinal under dazzling lights at the Dubai International Stadium on November 11.
Wicketkeeper-batter Wade hammered an unbeaten 41 off just 17 balls with fours sixed and two fours to richly deserve Man of the Match award. At the other end Marcus Stoinis remained unconquered on an invaluable 40 off 31 balls with brace of sixes and fours to take Australia home with an over to spare.
They shared a dramatic match winning 81-run sixth wicket partnership after half of their team was back in the hut before raising 100 of the innings. The vastly experienced left-handed opener, David Warner, led the charge initially with 49 off 30 balls with two sixes and as many fours before they lost flurry of wickets which restored parity in the game.
Leg-spinner Shadab Khan’s four-wicket haul broke the back of Australian batting as they needed 67 runs in last five overs. But it was brilliance of Wade which changed the complexion of the game decisively.
It may be recalled that it was another left-handed Aussie, Mike Hussey, who had snatched the semifinal from Pakistan in the Caribbean in 2010 in similar conditions. Australia had scored 57 runs in last three overs to storm into the final where they lost to England.
Pakistan’s defeat in the pre-final sent hundreds of their supporters in tears and they dominated the crowd of nearly 20,000 in Dubai. They had expected Pakistan to win the game but they returned home heartbroken.
Hasan Ali dropped a catch off Shaheen Afridi in the deep which cost Pakistan a place in the final. Afterwards Wade hoisted Shaheen for three successive sixes to snatch the game away from Pakistan.
Shadab nearly emerged as the unlikely hero with four wickets for 26 runs before Wade and Stoinis took control. Shadab’s figures were the best ever to be recorded in the semifinals of T20 World Cup.
Star batter Muhammad Rizwan, who was doubtful for the match due to fever and flu, and the 2017 Champions Trophy hero Fakhar Zaman hit form at the perfect time as they were instrumental in help Pakistan post a competitive total of 176-4 in 20 overs.
Rizwan continued his dream run in the event with a spectacular 67 off 52 balls studded with four sixes and three fours. Opening the innings with skipper Babar Azam, he gave Pakistan another fantastic start of 70 runs in 10 overs after Aaron Finch won the toss and inserted them to bat first.
Babar made a compact 39 off 34 balls laced with five boundaries.
But it was left-handed Fakhar who took Pakistan towards a commanding total. After a steady start, he tore apart the Australian attack with his typical powerful hitting. He hoisted four sixes and three fours in his 55 off 34 deliveries.
The aggression of Rizwan and Fakhar allowed Pakistan to put 106 runs on the board in the last 10 overs as the Australians seemed to have lost the plot for a while with Steve Smith dropping a sitter in the deep and their fancied speedsters misfiring occasionally. The unusually untidy cricket from the Aussies in the field could have cost them the game but they were bailed out by Wade and Stonis in the end.