Four key moments in Pakistan’s stunning semi-final win
It was Pakistan’s best performance of the tournament so far, with opening pair of Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan turning up when it mattered most to set up a successful chase.
But aside from the brilliance of Babar and Rizwan there were some crucial moments that sent Pakistan to the final.
Shaheen’s first over
Restricting New Zealand in the Powerplay was always going to be key for Pakistan, and early wickets were high on the wish list after being asked to bowl first.
If you had to choose one player to take that new ball in world cricket it’s probably Shaheen Afridi, and Pakistan’s strike bowler delivered on the big stage as he nearly always does.
The finger was raised twice inside the opening three balls of the innings as wicked inswingers had Finn Allen in all sorts of trouble. A big inside edge off the first decision gave the opener a one-ball reprieve, but the dismissal of New Zealand’s big-hitting right-hander pegged the innings back right from the start.
Shaheen took just that one wicket in the Powerplay, but his first over set the tone.
Shadab’s run out
The Black Caps were restricted throughout the Powerplay, missing out on the opportunity for a fast start. And yet, with Devon Conway and Kane Williamson established at the crease, there was a platform on which the Kiwis would have hoped to build a sizeable total.
Conway is the key to New Zealand’s batting order and the third-ranked batter in world cricket right now, so to dismiss him via a run out was a huge and decisive moment in the match.
It wasn’t even particularly an error of judgement by New Zealand to take the run; it required a piece of fielding of the absolute highest quality to take the wicket.
Shadab Khan is one of the best fielders in the world, but even for him the swoop and direct hit was magical.
Deserved high for Mohammad Nawaz
It has been a tricky tournament at times for Mohammad Nawaz, with the all-rounder involved in some tough moments during his side’s losses during the group stage.
So there was something particularly heart-warming to see the left-arm spinner make a big impact.
Glenn Phillips has been in seriously decent form throughout this tournament and could have taken the Kiwis to a challenging total. But he was fooled in the flight by Nawaz, chipping a return catch back to the bowler.
Haris and his timely hits
Pakistan had looked in complete control throughout their chase, but there was just a hint of pressure beginning to build when the target went to 19 from 15 balls.
If that sort of required number had drifted into Mitchel Santner and Tim Southee’s final two overs then there would have been a chance for New Zealand to snatch it at the last, but Mohammad Haris removed the pressure at the precise moment it surfaced.
This was only the 21-year-old’s fourth T20I, but he stepped up big time with back-to-back boundaries in the 18th over, following up a flowing four with a huge hook that sailed over square leg for six.
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