They advanced to the final but Pakistan timed their run to perfection and crushed New Zealand to reach the final of the T20 World Cup.
2021 semi-finalists Pakistan are just one match away from sealing an incredible comeback from 0-2 down at the Super 12 stage to win the World Cup.
Here are our talking points from Pakistan’s seven-wicket win at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
It’s crunch time in the T20 World Cup and you can watch every match live and ad-free on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
Second time lucky, but first review SHOCKER! | 00:57
THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW
It was just days ago that the world was brought to the Pakistan dressing room when former Australian opener Matthew Hayden delivered an inspirational speech.
There, the watching world gained a unique insight into the thinking of one of the titans of modern cricket. A man who suffered his fair share of injuries and setbacks before mastering all three forms of cricket, winning two World Cups and succeeding in all parts of the world.
“Boys, we’re dangerous, just understand that and appreciate it,” Hayden said to the team after their final Group 2 game, in which Pakistan somehow survived to fight another day as the Netherlands shocked South Africa.
“The moment Pakistan cricket deliberately fires up and starts baring its teeth, we become a real threat.
“There will be no one in this world and in this competition who wants to stand up to us right now. not one.
“They thought they got rid of us, but now they’re not going to get rid of us. We are here, buried and I actually like how we did compared to the last World Cup because the expectations were huge in the last World Cup. We kicked everyone off the face of the planet.
“It has not been smooth sailing. If it wasn’t for the Dutch, we wouldn’t be here. But we’re here and it’s powerful because nobody wants to see us and that’s the moment of surprise that we have an advantage.
“Guys moving on for the next few days, clear your mind. Be free and be fresh for whatever game we’re playing and just let go again with a good, positive intention.
“Fearless cricket, almost forgetful cricket.
“Who cares what happened in the last three weeks, we’re here. So good job. Just a magical day and you’ll have to put a smile on my face.”
Appointing Hayden as a mentor was nothing short of genius, the former left-hander is a spiritual person who can relate to Pakistan’s players.
But in Pakistan’s clinical display at the SCG, we saw a team deliver Hayden’s message that the rest of the competition will fear their striking power.
It wasn’t just his spirit; it was also his knowledge of the old standby that form is temporary but class is permanent, especially when it comes to Babar Azam, who only reached double figures once during the tournament.
Before Tuesday’s game, Hayden had what commentator Simon Doull called a “Yoda moment.” (See video below.)
Hayden compares Babar to Gilchrist | 01:03
“There is no doubt that Babar was at some disadvantage. That will make him an even bigger player,” Hayden said.
“As we all know about weather, as soon as there is a calm, there is often a storm. So watch out, rest of the world, because I think you’re going to see something very special from Babar.”
Babar’s 53 off 42, in an opening partnership that essentially won Pakistan the match, suggests that perhaps all they needed was the relentless confidence that was Hayden’s trademark.
THE OPENER IS ON FIRE
Pakistan’s opening duo of Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan barely needed the bat during the Super 12 stage.
The pair were swept away by India’s pace attack in their opening match of the tournament.
This set the tone for the tournament as India struck at first blood, leaving the right-handed pair with no feel for the ball.
It was in stark contrast to their opening match a year earlier, when the duo reduced India’s score to below par in the 2021 T20 World Cup and led Pakistan to a 10-wicket victory.
But in Sydney, on a slow wicket, Pakistan’s opening duo took the game right from the start.
It started with a back-foot strike from Rizwan over cover point to the boundary off Trent Boult’s opening delivery as the left-hander ran into the aging SCG wicket. His fall was a sign of things to come as the duo put on 105 at the opening stand before Babar was caught in the deep.
The opening of the match was almost comical.
A boundary first ball was followed by two reviews. The first one saw Finn Allen bowl the ball successfully, but the right-hander’s third ball was unsaveable as Afridi struck the opener in front.
Afridi’s brilliant spell set the tone for Pakistan.
The towering left-hander jumped the pace quickly, found his lengths and occasionally got the ball in swing.
Just as importantly, he was the pulse that Pakistan needed. He was an enforcer, an intimidator and drove the Pakistani contingent into a frenzy.
Afridi finished with 2-24 from four overs while he was superbly supported by new player bowler Naseem Shah (0-30).
Buttler is not confused by the used Adelaide Oval | 00:48
ALWAYS THE BRIDESMAN, NEVER THE BRIDE
Again, it was a case of so close yet so far for New Zealand.
Runners-up in the 2015 and 2019 ODIs, as well as last year’s T20 World Cup, New Zealand have been on cruise control for the tournament after their dominant win over Australia on the opening night of the group stages, but will return across the ditch without any silverware.
The Black Caps were never quite in the game.
They threatened at times, but their total always looked 20 runs short, especially on a night when there was little pace on the pitch.
Kane Williamson is New Zealand’s best batsman but his career would have looked very different if his team had managed to win the big white ball tournament.
THE SHOW IS ON
Dare to dream?
India’s incredible final win over Pakistan lit up the tournament on the second night in Melbourne.
We are now just one game away from a perfect final (don’t tell Andrew McDonald) at the MCG.
India will of course face an almighty task against an England side that is well balanced from top to bottom. There is no weakness in the England side, even if they lack a Kohli-like figure at No.3.
But that England side has match winners from Jose Buttler to Ben Stokes to Moeen Ali to Chris Jordan.
However, if India win, the MCG will not be big enough. It will be the hottest ticket in Australian sport all year.
Now pray the rain stays away or start preparing the Marvel Stadium wicket (not that the ICC will use it) with Sunday set to be gloomy in Australia’s sporting capital.
Monday is a reserve day… and the long-term radar station is also rained out for that time.
#Aussie #greats #Yoda #moment #Pakistani #fairytale #lives #Kiwi #bridesmaids #Talking #Pts