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Pakistan sealed a T20 World Cup semi-final contest against Australia as Babar Azam’s side made sure of top spot in their Super 12s group with an emphatic 72-run victory over Scotland at Sharjah.
Shoaib Malik set a new Pakistan record for the fastest T20 half-century off just 18 balls, equalling the tournament record set by India’s KL Rahul against the same opponents on Friday, smashing six sixes and three in the last over.
An unbeaten 54 from Malik plus Babar’s 66 from 47 balls, his fourth 50-plus score in five innings, helped Pakistan add 114 runs in the last eight overs to propel their side to 189 for four, with Scotland restricted to 117 for six.
It was a peculiar innings by Scotland, who showed little inclination to chase down their target, although Pakistan applied pressure and Shadab Khan was particularly impressive, with the leg-spinner taking two for 14 in four overs.
Australia, runners up in group one behind England, lie in wait on Thursday in Dubai in the last four for Pakistan, group two winners ahead of New Zealand and the only side with a 100 per cent winning record in the tournament.
Scotland, who upset the odds in reaching this stage, bow out after a fifth successive defeat and while they were rarely in the hunt, they did at least get to three figures after being blown away by India for 85 on Friday.
That match lasted just 24.1 overs but they fared better here with Richie Berrington finishing unbeaten on 54 from 36 balls, while earlier Hamza Tahir took one for 24 on his tournament bow, including the wicket of Mohammad Rizwan.
Rizwan had set a new record for most T20 runs in a calendar year in reaching 15 before under-edging Tahir behind, while there was a sense Pakistan, who chose to bat first, were in slight trouble on 60 for two at halfway.
Mohammad Hafeez put his foot down to take 31 from 19 balls before Safyaan Sharif had some revenge by pinning the veteran in front but after reaching a 40-ball fifty, Babar stepped on the gas to thrill a partisan Pakistan crowd.
Both left-arm spinners Tahir and Mark Watt were dumped over long-on by the Pakistan captain, who holed out to the same position off Chris Greaves, but the evergreen Malik took on the baton to push his nation into the ascendancy.
Sharif was twice cleared over the leg-side in the penultimate over by the 39-year-old, who thrashed 22 off the last four legitimate deliveries bowled by Greaves, hammering handsomely over midwicket for his fifty off the final ball.
After four overs, Scotland were two runs ahead of Pakistan at the same stage but they stumbled to 41 for two at the midway point. Scotland then lurched to 41 for four after Shadab snared George Munsey and Dylan Budge in an over.
Berrington drove then pulled Hasan for two fours in three balls and continued to act as a thorn in Pakistan’s side, although Scotland’s hopes had long since disappeared by this stage.
Berrington clobbered Hasan for a towering straight six before bringing up a 34-ball half-century in the same over and was unbeaten at the end as Scotland batted out their overs on their farewell appearance of the tournament.