Second tournament favourites – this time Pakistan – paid the price for conservative batting in the opening innings, succumbing to the curse of the defence for the second night in a row. With Australia requiring 62 off the last five overs and only five wickets in hand, they looked far more in control than England did in Abu Dhabi. They only had two hitters who had batted in the competition, but Matthew Wade and Marcus Stoinis used clean hitting to defeat the tournament’s top offence.
It will be tempting to paint Hasan Ali as the villain after his 18th over yielded 15 runs and he dropped Wade in the 19th over before he hit a hat-trick of sixes, but the match was lost when Pakistan scored just 71 runs in the first 10 overs on arguably the best batting track Dubai has provided all tournament.
Rizwan went after nearly everything. His strategy became evident as soon as they noticed how good the pitch was. Babar Azam, on the other hand, was unable to assist his companion. Within the first 10 overs, they combined to allow Australia to take out their fifth bowler’s quota for just 31 runs. Glenn Maxwell bowled an over with no boundary attempts to two right-handed hitters. Pakistan were 71 for 1 when Babar eventually slogged Adam Zampa to be caught at long-on, and they had once again left themselves requiring 120 off the last ten. Australia placed Rizwan and Zaman under a lot of pressure by backloading their finest bowlers. Pakistan reached 158 for 2 in 18 overs, which was just what they needed.
Stoinis and Wade didn’t panic and ended the game with one full over to spare, which was roughly worth 12 runs. But this wasn’t Hasan’s night. He bowled a no-ball in the 16th over to give away 12 runs with 62 needed in five overs. Then, in the 18th, he was dismissed for 15, which can happen to any bowler when hitters are going for the fences. In the 19th, with 20 required off 10, Hasan overran a long catch, Pakistan’s first major miscue in the field. With one bowler in, what should have been a 20 of 9 was now an 18 off 9. Wade then unleashed his fast-paced hitting, capitalising on Afridi’s length mistakes. Three of the sixes were ramps, taking advantage of Afridi’s quickness. His batting in the last award made him the Player of the Match.
Now it’s the Aussies that will face the Kiwis on Sunday. Who do you think will take the Cup home?