Pakistan beat New Zealand by seven wickets to reach T20 World Cup final

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Pakistan are through to their first T20 World Cup final in 13 years after a sensational partnership between Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan set up a dominant semi-final chase against New Zealand.

Babar and Rizwan had been T20 cricket’s most consistent opening pair heading into the tournament but Babar in particular struggled badly during the Super 12 stage, averaging just 7.8.

Both rose to the occasion in Sydney, however, making half-centuries and sharing a stand of 105 to leave Pakistan in sight of New Zealand’s 152 for four by the time it was finally broken by Babar’s dismissal for 53.

Rizwan’s departure for 57 soon after briefly gave New Zealand hope, with 21 still needed from the final three overs, but Mohammad Haris’ destructive 30 ensured there would be no late twist.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Victory arrived with seven wickets and five balls to spare and Pakistan now head to Melbourne, where they famously lifted the 50-over World Cup in 1992, to meet the winner of tomorrow’s second semi between England and India in Sunday’s final.

Earlier, having won the toss and elected to bat, the Kiwi innings began in chaotic fashion as opener Finn Allen creamed Shaheen Shah Afridi’s first ball down the ground for four and then was given out lbw to both the second and third, overturning the first of those dismissals on review but having no such luck second time around.

Opening partner Devon Conway (21) was run-out by a superb direct hit from Shadab Khan, before the dangerous Glenn Phillips fell in tame fashion, caught and bowled by Mohammad Nawaz for six.

 (AP)
(AP)

Suttering on 59 for three at the midway stage, Daryl Mitchell, hero of last year’s semi-final win over England, again came to the fore with 53 off 35, assisted by skipper Kane Williamson, who made 46 off 42 but without capitalising on the powerplay before becoming Afridi’s second victim.

The final looked an awfully long way away for Pakistan when they lost their opening two group games against India and Zimbabwe and only the Netherlands’ shock triumph over South Africa on the final day of the pool stage had handed them a last-four berth.

Australia great Matthew Hayden, part of the Pakistan coaching set-up, had backed the under-pressure Babar to seize the opportunity with a “special” performance and was proven correct as the skipper more than doubled his run tally for the tournament, though he needed a life on nought when Devon Conway put down a tough chance behind the stumps off the bowling of Trent Boult.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

New Zealand’s fielding was uncharacteristically sloppy throughout, with Haris also dropped late on but only after he had eased any late pressure by taking 13 runs off Lockie Ferguson’s 18th over.

New Zealand’s long wait for a first global white-ball title stretches on, with the Black Caps having lost last year’s T20 final to Australia and the 2019 World Cup to England.

“They were outstanding, we were outplayed to go and credit to their quality,” said Williamson. “It’s a tough pill to swallow.

“Babar and Rizwan put us under pressure and played really nicely. We wanted to be a bit more disinclined with our areas and make it more difficult to get away. Pakistan certainly deserved to be the winners.”