T20 World Cup: Finch hails 'outstanding' Wade after Australia's thrilling win

Matthew Wade hits a six during the semifinal against Pakistan. (CSK Twitter)
Matthew Wade hits a six during the semifinal against Pakistan. (CSK Twitter)

Babar said Pakistan would take plenty of positives from the tournament


Rituraj Borkakoty

Published: Thu 11 Nov 2021, 11:40 PM

Last updated: Thu 11 Nov 2021, 11:57 PM

What’s the size of Matthew Wade’s heart? Quite enormous, you would say, after the left-handed Australian batsman delivered brutal blows to Pakistan’s most feared fast bowler, when the second semifinal of the T20 World Cup was poised on a knife-edge.

Shaheen Shah Afridi, whose swing and pace had destroyed India at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, was ripped apart by Wade to give Australia a stunning five-wicket win and a place in Sunday’s final against New Zealand on the same venue.

Afridi (4-0-35-1) had hardly put a foot wrong until then, giving away only 13 runs in his first three overs and trapping Aaron Finch plumb in front of the wicket with searing pace and in-swing in the first over.

But Australia, chasing 177, fought back, thanks to David Warner’s superb counter-attack (49 off 30 balls, three fours and three sixes).

Pakistan, backed by a vociferous crowd at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, were relentless with the ball, though.

When Shadab Khan (4-0-26-4) had Warner caught behind and Glenn Maxwell (7) too fell to the leg-spinner with reverse sweep bringing his downfall, Pakistan had their tails up and Australia – at 96 for five in 12.2 overs – were staring down the barrel.

But Stoinis (40 not out off 31 balls) and Wade (41 not out off 17 balls) refused to give up and kept Australia in the hunt despite the steep asking rate.

Then with 22 needed off 12 balls, this was make-or-break for both teams.

With a desperate urge to take a wicket, Babar brought back Afridi.

Afridi conceded only four off the first three balls and it seemed he would be Pakistan’s hero again.

But Wade turned the match on its head in spectacular fashion.

He shuffled across and scooped the next ball, bowled at a yorker length, over the fine leg boundary for a stunning six.

The complete disregard for Afridi’s pace and ability stunned the Pakistanis on the field.

The left-arm pacer succumbed to the pressure and bowled two length balls which Wade nonchalantly hit over the boundary, first one over the mid-wicket and the next, a scoop over the fine-leg.

Three mighty hits from Wade in a gladiatorial finish brought an end to Pakistan’s unbeaten run in the tournament and set up Australia’s final date with New Zealand.

"It was a great game of cricket. The way Matthew Wade held his nerve was outstanding, that partnership with Marcus Stoinis was crucial,” captain Aaron Finch said at the post-match presentation.

Wade credited Stoinis for giving the impetus at the start of their unbroken partnership.

“He found the boundaries early on, and I was happy to chip in at the end. It got down to two a ball, and from there it was if you got one in your arc, just try to hit it,” Wade said after his man-of-the-match performance.

Earlier, Mohammad Rizwan’s fantastic stroke-play in the top order and Fakhar Zaman’s stunning assault on the Australian attack in the death overs were the two dominant factors in Pakistan’s reaching a challenging total of 176 for four.

On a wicket that offered little support to the Australian bowlers, it was skipper Babar Azam (39 off 34 balls, five fours) who gave Pakistan an impressive start.

Whether it was Mitchell Starc (4-0-38-2), Pat Cummins (4-0-30-1) or Josh Hazlewood (4-0-49-0), who failed to make any impact on Thursday, Babar played textbook shots, setting the tone for his team’s big score.

Rizwan (67 off 52 balls) was slow to get off the mark. Having played first successive dots, Rizwan danced down the wicket to hit Glenn Maxwell out of the park only to mistime his shot.

Warner, running backwards from mid-off, tried his best but failed to hold onto the catch as the ball rolled onto the boundary.

The wicketkeeper-batsman then began to open up as Babar continued to find the gaps with immaculate timing.

After Babar fell to leg-spinner Adam Zampa, Rizwan began playing with more freedom. He also found a good partner in Zaman (55 not out off 32 balls).

The left-handed Fakhar hit the ground running as the two batsmen completely dominated Australia, sharing 72 runs for the second wicket off just 42 balls.

But after Rizwan's dismissal, Asif Ali (0), the Pakistani six-hitting machine, failed to click on Thursday.

And the veteran Shoaib Malik (1) was bowled by Starc while trying to go for a big shot.

But Fakhar was magnificent until the end, hitting two stunning sixes over mid-wicket off Starc in the final over to help Pakistan post a challenging total.

In the end, it was not enough, though, as Wade dragged Australia over the line in dramatic fashion.

But Babar said Pakistan would take plenty of positives from the tournament.

“The way we played this tournament, the way we gelled, I'm very satisfied as a captain. I hope we try and learn from our mistakes after this. Definitely, if we've played so well in a tournament, we'll gain confidence, and we'll continue to try and play this way,” the Pakistan captain said.

Brief scores:

Australia beat Pakistan by five wickets

Pakistan 176/4 in 20 overs (Mohammad Rizwan 67, Fakhar Zaman 55 not out; Mitchell Starc 2/38, Adam Zampa 1/22)

Australia 177/5 in 19 overs (David Warner 49, Matthew Wade 41 not out; Shadab Khan 4/26, Shaheen Shah Afridi 1/35)

Player of the Match: Matthew Wade (Australia)

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