Marcus Stoinis and Matthew Wade seal remarkable win for Australia

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Australia are into the T20 World Cup final as a remarkable rescue act from Marcus Stoinis and Matthew Wade sealed a five-wicket victory over Pakistan at Dubai.

Pakistan were heavily fancied to book a showdown against New Zealand on Sunday and that was reinforced when Australia stumbled to 96 for five in pursuit of 172 after Shadab Khan collected his fourth wicket of the innings.

But Stoinis and Wade were undeterred, whittling down the target to 22 off the final 12 balls in an unbroken 81-run stand. Wade then ended matters with an over to spare thanks to three sixes in a row off Shaheen Shah Afridi.

Wade, dropped in the deep on 21 moments before launching an attack on Afridi, was unbeaten on 41 from 17 balls and Stoinis was a capable foil on 40 not out from 31 deliveries as Australia defied the odds to reach the showpiece.

Hammered by England at this venue less than two weeks ago, Australia have responded magnificently and they ended Pakistan’s 100 per cent record in the tournament to guarantee a first-time winner will be crowned on Sunday.

It emerged afterwards that Pakistan opener Mohammad Rizwan had spent the build-up to this semi-final in intensive care with a chest infection but he roused himself to contribute a crucial 67 from 52 balls.

Fakhar Zaman’s unbeaten 55 from 32 deliveries lifted Pakistan to 176 for four after they were asked to bat first and Shadab’s four for 26 seemingly put the tournament favourites in a handsome position.

Australia were profligate in the field, putting down three catches of varying degrees of difficulty, but Hasan Ali shelling a relatively simple chance proved decisive as Wade capitalised to silence a partisan Pakistan crowd.

Matthew Wade, left, and Marcus Stoinis starred (Aijaz Rahi/AP/PA)
Matthew Wade, left, and Marcus Stoinis starred (Aijaz Rahi/AP/PA)

Pakistan started purposefully on a pitch that seemed truer than many in recent weeks, with captain Babar Azam’s timing exemplary while Rizwan was away with a lofted drive that was spilled into the boundary by David Warner.

Pakistan’s openers were subdued by spin twins Glenn Maxwell and Adam Zampa in the five overs after the powerplay, taking just one boundary with Babar holing out for 39, but not before regaining the tournament’s leading run-scorer mantle.

A rare loose delivery from Zampa, who dropped Rizwan on 20, was put away by the opener en route to a 41-ball fifty, after which he accelerated quickly following some loose bowling from Josh Hazlewood, who watched the ball sail into the crowd after sending down a chest high full toss in his final over that yielded 21 runs.

Fakhar, on 17 off 17, also took down Hazlewood as he finished with 4-0-49-0. While Mitchell Starc removed Rizwan, the left-armer conceded 30 in his final two overs as Fakhar ensured a strong finish. There were three leg-side sixes in the arc between long-on and deep midwicket and a four that forced umpire Chris Gaffaney to take evasive action.

Mohammad Rizwan had spent the build-up to this contest in hospital (Kamran Jebreili/AP/PA)
Mohammad Rizwan had spent the build-up to this contest in hospital (Kamran Jebreili/AP/PA)

In between Pat Cummins yielded just three singles in an excellent penultimate over, where Fakhar was dropped on 40 by Steve Smith and the batter’s efforts made sure Pakistan went into the change of innings with a spring in their step, before Afridi’s electric start put them in dreamland.

Finch was undone first-up by a fuller 92mph delivery that swung back into his pads and the Australia captain did not bother to send the decision upstairs, while Afridi thought he had Mitchell Marsh for a golden duck after a devilish yorker struck the batter on the toe, but the not out decision was upheld on umpire’s call on impact.

Warner bristled with intent – clattering a double-bouncer into the stands – but he followed Marsh (28) and Smith (five) in falling to Shadab, but UltraEdge failing to detect a spike calling the opener’s decision not to review into question as he trudged off for 49 from 30 balls.

Stoinis initially took charge in leading the recovery with some bruising blows and some swift work between the wickets with Wade, who clubbed Hasan’s slower ball for a towering straight six in the 18th over. Worse was to follow for Hasan before Wade tucked into Afridi with relish to break Pakistan hearts.

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