Wade completes brilliant chase to send Australia into the final
ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2021 finalist Matthew Wade and Marcus Stoinis forged a great partnership to guide Australia to a surprising five-wicket victory over Pakistan and a meeting with New Zealand.
Despite the loss of David Warner and Glenn Maxwell in consecutive overs from Shadab Khan, Stoinis and Wade put up an impressive 81 in 7.4 overs to save the day for Australia.
In the end, it was Wade's three consecutive sixes off Shaheen Shah Afridi after being dropped by Hasan Ali that secured the unexpected victory.
Mohammad Rizwan and Fakhar Zaman both scored half-centuries for Pakistan, and Shadab Khan's four for 26 looked to have shifted the game in Pakistan's favour.
However, this Australia squad has already shown remarkable resolve in this tournament, and it was the case again here as they fought themselves out of a hole to reach a second ICC Men's T20 World Cup final.
While Rizwan was in the hospital the night before due to a lung condition, he was fit enough to take his spot in the Pakistan team when they were put into the batting order at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Saturday.
Babar Azam was able to score immediately before Rizwan had a chance to settle in.
In the powerplays, Maxwell was a surprise choice to bowl, and Warner raced back but could not take a stunner over his shoulder.
First ball of fifth over from Josh Hazlewood he hammered for six over the legside, before Adam Zampa gave him another chance, this time with the penultimate ball of the powerplay when it was spun flat down to him at long leg but just slipped from his fingers.
In the competition, Pakistan's top powerplay score came with a 47-for-nothing effort from Babar. The pressure of Maxwell and Zampa, though, eventually caught up with Babar, who tried to take on the latter and ended up picking out Warner on the boundary.
In order to keep Australia's fifth bowler from being the weak link, Maxwell's bowling was important. He took just 20 wickets in three overs.
Short delivery from Mitchell Starc rattled into Rizwan's helmet, slowing his surge.
A six from Hazlewood followed by a half-century on the next ball was his response.
When Fakhar finally got his rhythm, he ripped Hazlewood for six over long-on before Rizwan smashed a high full toss away for four and the free shot into the bleachers for six in the final over of the match. Hazlewood was costly with a 21-off over and a 49-off four.
Fakhar, the only Pakistani batsman who hadn't yet smashed a shot in this competition, had his eye on the ball, and Rizwan was eventually bowled out for 67. Almost taking out umpire Chris Gaffaney with a straight four, he hammered the next ball over Starc's head.
A six every three balls for Asif Ali in this event, but he couldn't help this time; Steve Smith hit the boundary off his first ball from Pat Cummins.
Smith ran in from the boundary as he watched Fakhar's next ball bounce out of his hands and placed it down.
Fakhar Ali hit back-to-back sixes in the final over of the innings to help Pakistan amass an impressive 176 for four, despite the dismissal of Shoaib Malik by Mitchell Starc in the 19th over.
It was the worst possible start for Australia's chase, as Shaheen unleashed one of the best overs of the competition. A yorker from the next ball nearly took out Mitchell Marsh but was saved by a couple of good umpire rulings. He then caught Aaron Finch leg before off the third delivery.
He and Marsh started to get going in the fourth over when Warner started to fall in love with Imad Wasim.
A steepling catch from Shadab by Asif as Marsh fell for 28 put them in a commanding position at the end of the powerplay, the best of any team against Pakistan.
To add insult to injury, Mohammad Hafeez's very first ball was a no-ball that bounced twice before being carried into the bleachers by David Warner.
As Shadab's second victim, Steve Smith tried to assault again and found Fakhar in the outfield to be the safe set of hands.
Maxwell's botched single allowed Fakhar a chance for a direct hit, and Warner was nearly out of time.
While Warner was on the field, Australia appeared to be the clear front-runners. The ball he pursued after the break was a one from Shadab that snuck through to Rizwan. As Warner was sent out for 49, the celebration from both the bowler and the wicketkeeper was clear.
Though a replay appeared to show that Warner had missed the ball, he evidently felt that it was his and chose not to examine it, as did the rest of the field.
Haris Rauf caught Maxwell with a diving grab in the deep from a reverse sweep, as Australia's most destructive batter exited for seven as Shadab piled on the pressure.
Stoinis and Wade were left with a 62-run target from the final five overs, thanks to a magnificent Shaheen over.
After a magnificent six over midwicket from Stoinis, Haris was the first to take on the bowlers with a four that was driven straight back past the bowler.
Hasan was smashed over the head for six by Wade on the next over as Australia took 15 from the over, leaving 22 to take two wickets in hand.
Hasan had a chance to dismiss Wade in the penultimate over when Shaheen returned and he didn't connect with a heave over midwicket, dropping Wade in the outfield. Wade sprinted across his stumps and snatched Shaheen for six off the next ball, putting Australia in a position to win the match.
Another one of his three sixs, this one hammered over the leg side by him, completed the job.
Scores in brief :
Australia defeated Pakistan by five wickets in Dubai International Stadium.
Muhammad Rizwan 67, Fakhar Zaman 55 not out; Mitchell Starc 2/38, Adam Zampa 1/22; Pakistan 176/4 in 20 overs
In 19 overs, Australia 177/5 (David Warner 49, Matthew Wade 41; Shadab Khan 4/26, Shaheen Shah Afridi 1/35), a total of 177 runs.
It was Matthew Wade who was named the game's MVP (Australia)