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T20 WC 2022, SF 1, PAK v NZ: Afridi's 2-24, Rizwan-Babar century stand take Pak into the Final

ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022, Semi final 1, Pakistan vs New Zealand: Shaheen Shah Afridi's 2-24, Mohammad Rizwan-Babar Azam 105-run stand and Daryl Mitchell's 53 are top performances as Pakistan beat New Zealand and enter T20 World Cup final.

ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022, Semi final 1, Pakistan v New Zealand_ Mohammad Rizwan-Babar Azam added 105 runs for first wicket against New Zealand; Pakistan into the finals_ Walking Wicket (Photo_ ©AFP_Getty Images)
Rizwan-Babar added 105 runs for 1st wicket against New Zealand (Photo: ©AFP/Getty Images)

Brief Scores:Pakistan 153/3 (Rizwan 57, Babar 53, Boult 2/33) beat New Zealand 152/4 (Mitchell 53*, Williamson 46, Afridi 2/24) by 7 wickets

Player of the Match: Mohammad Rizwan (57 runs in 43 balls)

Consistent New Zealand who with three victories became the first team to qualify for the semi-final locked horns with Pakistan who with three back-to-back victories lifted themselves up from the jaws of elimination, during the first semi-final of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) in Sydney on Wednesday.

Pakistan have won 17 of the 28 T20Is against New Zealand, including four of the six clashes in the previous editions of World Cup.

Off day on the field eliminates New Zealand against inspired Pakistan

New Zealand had an off day on the field against Pakistan, where they dropped a few vital chances early on besides missing a few direct hits which could have somehow changed the momentum of the game. Also, their third successive wicketless powerplay in this World Cup caused issues with ball in hand.

On the flipside of the coin, Pakistan just scripted a new future for them. From being down and out, they have now qualified for the final of the T20 World Cup 2022. And Babar Azam’s half-century including his century partnership with Mohammad Rizwan will give Pakistan a lot more confidence going into the finals.

All-round Pakistan reach their third T20 World Cup final

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson on winning the toss decided to bat first on a pitch that was used for the first game of the Super 12 stage in this T20 World Cup between Australia and New Zealand. Surprisingly, both teams went into this game with an unchanged eleven.

New Zealand began with a boundary on the very first delivery, before losing opener Finn Allen on the third ball of the first over. A lazy attempt saw Devon Conway being dismissed on the last ball of powerplay as New Zealand were reduced to 38/2 in six overs. The 68-run stand between Kane Williamson and Daryl Mitchell took them to 106/3 in 15 overs. Some good running between the wickets along with a few good shots from half-centurion Mitchell propelled them to 152/4 after their 20 overs.

Chasing 153, both Pakistan openers - Babar Azam and Mohammed Rizwan - began with full intent smashing the New Zealand bowlers all around the park to put up 55/0 in the powerplay before reaching 87/0 at the halfway mark. With 122/1 in 15 overs, Pakistan were easing towards victory as they held their nerves to earn a seven-wicket victory with five balls to spare to reach their third T20 World Cup final.

Let’s scan the top three performances from the game between New Zealand and Pakistan in the first semi-final of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022.

ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022, Semi final 1, Pakistan v New Zealand_ Shaheen Shah Afridi took 2-24 against New Zealand in semi-final at Sydney_ Walking Wicket (Photo_ ©AFP via Getty Images)
Shaheen took 2-24 against New Zealand in semi-final (Photo: ©AFP via Getty Images)

Sharp Shaheen Shah Afridi shows his class with 2/24

Coming back from the injury, Pakistan’s left-arm pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi wasn’t in great touch after going wicketless in the first couple of games, but he returned with full strength in the last three games picking up eight wickets to lead his team to the semis.

On the first ball of the game, Afridi was drilled by Finn Allen for a straight boundary before an inside edge saved Allen on the very next ball. But smart Afridi finally sent back Allen on 4 who was trapped before the wickets with a straight in-swinging delivery. He gave away just 11 runs including a wicket in his couple of overs in the powerplay.

When Afridi came back for his third over during the 15th over of the game, Afridi spent just 7 runs, before dismissing opponent captain Kane Williamson on 40 who in trying to play an innovative shot saw the ball hitting the top of leg stump; this was the second time Afridi had the better of Williamson who has scored just 23 runs in 22 balls in his face-off with the Pakistan bowler.

Shaheen Shah Afridi who finished with figures of 2/24 in his four overs, now has 57 T20I wickets in 46 games.

ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022, Semi final 1, Pakistan v New Zealand_ Daryl Mitchell scored 53 off 35 against Pakistan in semi-final; Pakistan move to final _ Walking Wicket (Photo_ ©Getty Images)
Mitchell scored 53 off 35 against Pakistan in semi-final (Photo: ©Getty Images)

Daryl Mitchell contributes with a vital knock in the semi-final

From the very first over, New Zealand were under tremendous pressure being reduced to 49/3 in the first eight overs with their captain Kane Williamson struggling to get runs being on 18 off 17 deliveries. Daryl Mitchell who was short of a great knock in this T20 World Cup, joined Williamson in the middle after the powerplay.

Mitchell began to take those vital singles and doubles to keep the scoreboard ticking as Pakistan bowlers were on fire in their job. Mitchell broke jail when he played a cut shot against Shadab Khan as the ball raced away through the gap between backward point and short third man. Two balls later, Mitchell using his feet smacked Shadab over long-on for another boundary.

Even when he wasn’t getting those big shots, the best part of the knock was that he kept on taking those quick singles which didn’t allow the pressure being built on New Zealand. Mitchell then again used his feet to smash Shadab over his head for a beautiful six over the head of the long-off fielder. He then cleared extra cover to smack Naseem Shah for another four to celebrate his third T20I fifty in just 32 balls. He also joins Virat Kohli and Chris Gayle to score two 50+ scores in T20 World Cup semis.

Mitchell who remained unbeaten on 53 in 35 balls with the help of three boundaries and one solitary six, now has 766 T20I runs in 39 games.

ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022, Semi final 1, Pakistan v New Zealand_ Mohammad Rizwan, Babar Azam's opening stand helps Pakistan beat New Zealand and move to final_ Walking Wicket (Photo_ ©Getty Images)
Rizwan-Azam's opening stand helps Pakistan beat New Zealand (Photo: ©Getty Images)

Babar-Rizwan’s 105-run opening partnership blew away New Zealand

Coming into this game, the opening pair for Pakistan between Mohammed Rizwan and Babar Azam was under so many questions, with the latter not getting runs with just 39 runs in five games in the Super 12 stage; but on a vital day against New Zealand in the semis, both answered all the questions with golden performances.

Rizwan began with a beautiful boundary driving Trent Boult straight down the ground, before Babar Azam came to the party with a superb boundary being thumped through the covers. Rizwan then cracked two more boundaries in the same over of Boult; he used his feet to smash the ball in the fine leg region before playing a square cut on the off side.

Babar raised the SCG noise levels with a boundary that was driven through covers against Lockie Ferguson, before Rizwan creamed two back-to-back boundaries against Tim Southee; the first one was drilled between mid-on and mid-wicket. After the powerplay when the field was spread out, Babar cut a short ball against Ish Sodhi between backward point and cover to reach his 30th T20I fifty in just 38 balls, before Rizwan too joined him in the record as with a quick single in the mid-wicket region, Rizwan registered his 23rd T20I fifty in just 36 balls.

The opening partnership of 105 was the ninth century partnership between them in the T20Is, as they laid a great platform for a memorable victory. Rizwan who finished on 57 in 43 balls, now has 2610 T20I runs in 79 games, while Babar Azam who made 53 runs in the game now has 3323 runs in 98 T20Is.

What’s Next

With this win, Pakistan will now play their third final in T20 World Cup against the winner of the second semi-final between India and England.

The second semi-final will be played on November 10 at the Adelaide Oval in Adelaide, while the final will be played on November 13 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in Melbourne.

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