Wade stuns Pakistan with hat-trick of sixes to hand Australia T20 World Cup final spot

Aussies chase down 177 with an over to spare in Dubai to set up title clash with New Zealand

Matthew Wade hit three balls in a row from Shaheen Afridi into the stunned masses in the stands of the Dubai International Stadium to send Australia through to the T20 World Cup final.

Talk about making the most of a reprieve. On the third ball of the 39th over of the semi-final in Sports City, Wade had been dropped by the beleaguered Hasan Ali.

Taking the remainder of the over for 18 gave Australia a five-wicket win, and set up a repeat of the 2015 50-over final, as they will face New Zealand in two days’ time.

Defeat felt harsh on Pakistan, who had played some of the most thrilling cricket over the past three weeks. And especially so on Shadab Khan, whose 4-26 from his four overs of leg-spin were the best figures in a T20 World Cup semi-final to date.

While he was on, the game appeared to be Pakistan’s. But Wade (41 off 17) and Marcus Stoinis (40 off 31) - who shared 81 in less than seven overs - had other ideas.

Pakistan’s own innings had been a brutal slugfest at times. Mohammed Rizwan had been on a sickbed in hospital the night before the game, yet still played a dogged innings with the bat.

Added to the after effects of illness, he suffered a facial injury when he was hit on the cheekbone by a 144kph bouncer from Mitchell Starc.

Pakistan’s wicketkeeper played with a lump protruding from the side of his face for the rest of the innings.

He bounced back pluckily, as he launched Josh Hazlewood for six in the next over, a ball before going to 50.

That battle was a telling one. In Hazlewood’s last over, one delivery to Rizwan cost him 11 runs.

It started out with a no ball for height, which the batter managed to carve away for four. The resultant free hit sailed into the stands.

In the course of making 67 from 52 balls, Rizwan became the first player ever to score in excess of 1,000 runs in T20 international cricket in a calendar year.

It was the highest in the Pakistan innings, but they needed some pyrotechnics from Fakhar Zaman in the closing overs to get them to 176-4 by the end of their 20.

Fakhar had been quiet in the tournament until this point, but Matthew Hayden, Pakistan’s batting consultant, had warned on the eve of the game he was finding his range.

And so it proved as he smoked 55 not out in 32 balls. That included sixes in successive balls in the last over of the innings off Starc. The first of them was so violent it smashed into the windows of a second-tier corporate box and bounced all the way back inside the 30-yard circle.

Given the placid nature of the wicket – which is a tribute to the groundstaff given the amount of traffic there has been on this block in the past two months – both sides would have been satisfied with a target of 177.

Pakistan started the defence in rampant fashion. Obviously they did. Shaheen Afridi had the new ball, after all.

He sent back Aaron Finch with the third ball of the innings, and had an lbw review against Mitch Marsh off the next turned down by a fine margin.

Australia fought back, though, led by David Warner. He went on the counter-attack, his assault bringing him 49 in 30 balls.

The pressure was showing on Pakistan’s bowlers, too. Haris Rauf was hit for six off his first ball.

Worse still was Mohammed Hafeez, who was hit for seven, starting up with a botched delivery which bounced twice before Warner dispatched it 87m into the stand.

Shadab’s spell spun the game in Pakistan’s favour, as he dismissed Marsh, Steve Smith, and Glenn Maxwell, and somehow enticed Warner into walking for a caught behind which replays suggested he did not hit.

When Maxwell was fifth out, Australia were mired on 96-5 in the 13th over.

From that position, Wade was an unlikely matchwinner.

Updated: November 11th 2021, 6:17 PM
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