Pakistan advance after NZ fail to fire

PAKISTAN has become the first side to book a spot in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup final after defeating New Zealand by seven wickets in Wednesday night’s semi-final at the SCG.

This time three days ago, Pakistan was just about out of the tournament. New Zealand, having looked near-flawless through the group stage, entered as favourite, but again fell short on the big stage and ended its tournament in disappointing fashion.

The result looked likely early, after the Kiwis’ top order failed to truly fire, and Pakistan’s dangerous bowling attack proved too much. Fast forward to the second innings, and Pakistan held on in the final over to prevent a shocking collapse.

Pakistan openers Muhammad Rizwan (57 runs from 43 balls) and Babar Azam (53 runs from 42 balls) got their side off to the perfect start, finally combining for a strong total after the latter overcame his form struggles, chasing down the low total set by the Black Caps.

New Zealand (4/152) def. by Pakistan (3/153)

New Zealand won the toss and opted to bat, but immediately struggled with a slow and dry pitch, with opener Finn Allen looking promising after smashing a ball down the ground for four to open the game, before being given out lbw. at the hands of Shaheen Shah Afridi‘s excellent in-swinger. Devon Conway lifted the side with a 21-run showing, but was run out thanks to some excellent fielding from Shadab Khan and Pakistan, a familiar theme throughout the night.

Kane Williamson gave the Black Caps a chance with a 46-run performance, taking as many singles as possible with the Pakistan bowlers producing tight deliveries. He formed a 68-run partnership with Daryl Mitchell (53 runs not out), before the skipper was foiled by an outstanding slower ball from Afridi, which essentially put an end to New Zealand’s innings.

Rizwan and Azam produced their ninth T20I century partnership with a stunning display, not favouring any particular shot as they played to all parts of the ground. Azam was dropped by Conway on zero, which would have made for a very different innings. Trent Boult dismissed both parties, but the duo had already set up Pakistan for a win. Mohammad Haris finished the job with an aggressive knock, and advanced his side to the big dance with just five balls to spare.

Pakistan will face either India or England in the final at the MCG on Sunday night.

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