|ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Semi-Final, Sydney|
|New Zealand 152-4 (20 overs): Mitchell 53* (35), Williamson 46 (42); Shaheen 2-24|
|Pakistan 153-3 (19.1 overs): Rizwan 57 (43), Babar 53 (42)|
|Pakistan won by seven wickets|
Pakistan reached the final of the Men’s T20 World Cup after a thunderous seven-wicket victory over New Zealand in Sydney.
Chasing 153 to win, Pakistan openers Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan hit half-centuries in an opening stand of 105 to clinch a stunning victory.
Shan Masood hit the winning runs with five balls to spare to send Pakistani fans wild at an electric SCG.
Daryl Mitchell had earlier hit an unbeaten half-century as New Zealand recovered from 49-3 to 152-4.
Pakistan now play either England or India – who meet on Thursday – in Sunday’s final in Melbourne.
It continues a stunning comeback for Pakistan, who were on the brink of elimination after losing to rivals India and then Zimbabwe in their first two matches of the tournament.
They needed a shock defeat of South Africa by the Netherlands to keep their hopes alive, but they are now just a game away from a second T20 World Cup triumph.
“The team has performed so well in the last three matches and they followed it today. I want to thank the crowd, it feels like we are playing at home,” said Pakistan captain Babar.
“We will enjoy this moment but at the same time we have to focus on the final.”
Pakistan will hope to emulate their Class of 92
Pakistan got off to a terrible start in this tournament but now seem to have almost unstoppable momentum as they look to repeat their success in the 1992 50-over World Cup in Australia under the captaincy of Imran Khan.
They made a terrible start to that competition too, losing their first three group stage matches, but a dramatic revival – including a semi-final victory over New Zealand – saw them to victory over England in the final.
There seems to be a similar sense of destiny here as they ride the crest of a wave fueled by their boisterous, passionate support, once gathered in great numbers.
They blew New Zealand away largely thanks to a wonderful start with the bat by Babar and Rizwan, who have struggled for fluency this tournament but finally fired when it mattered.
A brutal opening attack lifted them to 55-0 after the powerplay and when they reached 87-0 at the halfway stage, the Kiwis looked stunned.
“Babar and I struggled with the pitches, with the new ball and the swing. But we always believed in ourselves, we always keep fighting,” said Mohammad Rizwan, who was named the man of the match.
“As soon as we crossed the boundary line we wanted to take on the new ball. We knew the pitch was tricky, we thought 150 was a good total on that pitch but we knew we could take them.”
Babar was eventually dismissed when he looked to lift Boult for six but instead holed Mitchell at long-on, but his 53 from 42 balls was more than he has made in five previous innings of this World Cup combined.
Two more late wickets, including that of Rizwan for 57 from 43 balls, sent Pakistan’s nerves fraying, but Masood saw them over the line to complete a comprehensive victory.
“It’s just amazing. The way they’ve come back it feels like it’s written in the stars,” said BBC Test Match Special commentator Henry Moeran.
“It’s a cliché to say you never know what you’re going to get from Pakistan, but what they’ve shown today is resilience, is strength, toughness, and when it really mattered, they put it all together.”
Black Caps well beaten
In contrast to Pakistan, New Zealand made almost leisurely progress to this stage after starting their tournament with one thumping win over hosts Australia.
But they looked completely confused here and can have few complaints with the result.
The tone of the match was set in the opening over, with Finn Allen driving Shaheen Afridi’s first ball of the match for four before being given out lbw off the following delivery.
Allen successfully overturned the decision after replays showed a thick inside edge, but another wicked inswinger from Shaheen caught him in front next ball to rev up an already excited crowd.
Mitchell and Williamson doggedly rebuilt the innings after the Black Caps slipped to 49-3, but hit just five boundaries in a 68-run partnership for the fourth wicket.
The surface used appeared slow and difficult to score from, meaning New Zealand’s 152-4 seemed a defensible total. But Pakistan made a mockery of it as they dismantled the experienced Black Caps bowling partnership of Boult and Southee in the powerplay to put themselves ahead of the opening pace.
New Zealand’s below-par display was summed up by two dropped catches, most notably Babar, who was bowled by wicketkeeper Conway off the second ball of the match.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow,” Williamson said. “Babar and Rizwan put us under pressure but if we are honest with ourselves we should have been more disciplined. They deserved to win that match.
“We have played very good cricket, we have stuck to what has brought us a lot of success but today we were not at our best.”
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