T20 World Cup: Babar and Rizwan send Pakistan into final

By Sports Desk November 09, 2022

Pakistan's opening batters returned to form at the ideal moment as they propelled their side into the T20 World Cup final at New Zealand's expense.

Set a competitive target of 153 at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Wednesday, Pakistan claimed a seven-wicket triumph to tee up a meeting with England or sub-continental rivals India.

Their victory owed much to the work of Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam, who scored 57 and 53 respectively, with both openers finding form just when Pakistan needed them most.

Kane Williamson's 46 and an unbeaten 53 from Daryl Mitchell ensured New Zealand – runners-up to Australia in the United Arab Emirates last year – were in with a chance, as they reached 152-4 in their 20 overs, with Shaheen Shah Afridi (2-24) the pick of Pakistan's bowlers.

Matters might have been much different had Devon Conway taken the chance to send Babar packing with the first ball Pakistan's captain faced, only to drop the catch.

Babar took full advantage, and it was the 13th over – with Pakistan having reached 105 – before he fell to Trent Boult (2-33), though Rizwan chipped his way to a half-century.

Boult claimed another vital wicket when Rizwan picked out Glenn Phillips in the deep, though the damage was already done - the stage set for Mohammad Haris (30) to lash Lockie Ferguson for two boundaries, the second of which was a huge six that put Pakistan well ahead of the required run rate.

Haris clipped to Finn Allen at the end of the penultimate over, yet Shan Masood had no nerves in the first ball of the final over as he sent Pakistan into their first World Cup final since 2007, when they were beaten by India.

Captain's knock from Babar

Pakistan looked to be staring down the barrel of an early exit from the tournament last weekend, but South Africa's shock defeat to the Netherlands handed them a chance. Now, they will go for glory in the tournament's showpiece match.

While Rizwan had started to find his form again in the later Group 2 matches, Babar had accumulated only 39 runs across the tournament prior to Wednesday, but he delivered when it mattered this time out, hitting seven fours in his 42-ball knock.

Fielding lets New Zealand down

What might have been for the Black Caps, who will have to lick their wounds again after also coming so close in 2021.

They put down three great opportunities throughout Pakistan's innings, including Ish Sodhi's late drop of Haris. New Zealand have now lost three of their T20 World Cup semi-finals, while they have lost five of their last six meetings with Pakistan in the format.

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