Pakistan have played this T20 World Cup in the way it knows best.
The road to the semi-final was nothing short of a roller-coaster — Pakistan had to beat Bangladesh and rely on The Netherlands to down South Africa.
They got lucky on both counts.
And when Babar Azam’s green brigade miraculously scripted a convincing win over New Zealand in Sydney on Wednesday to reach the final, Netherlands Coach Ryan Campbell quipped: ‘Hey @TheRealPCB fans, you are welcome!! @T20WorldCup’.
Pakistan were nearly all but buried when they lost their opener against India and followed that up with another loss to Zimbabwe. But they won the next three matches and with a little help from The Netherlands, sneaked into the semis.
Pakistan and England will play a repeat of the 2009 T20 World Cup final.
Although its all-round effort got Pakistan in the final, it is mainly the contributions of Shadab Khan and premier paceman Shaheen Afridi that has brought them deep.
Shadab has been exceptional with both bat and ball.
He was named player of the match for his three-wicket haul against the Dutch. He followed it up with a brilliant all-round performance in a rain-truncated match against South Africa which Pakistan won by 33-runs (D/L method).
He first scored a 20-ball 50 to rally Pakistan after losing early wickets. His innings was decorated with four sixes and three fours.
The 24 year old then followed it up with contributions with the ball, picking 2 for 16 to help Pakistan claim a crucial win and log much-needed points to stay in the hunt.
Another Shadab contribution with 2 wickets saw Pakistan crush Bangladesh by five wickets.
The lucky semi-finalists then beat New Zealand in convincing fashion. If not contributing with either bat or ball, Shadab knew how to keep himself in the game.
The leggie effected a brilliant run-out — a direct hit from mid-off — in the semis to take out New Zealand opener Devon Conway, a dismissal that saw Kiwis do a no-show and get knocked out.
Shaheen, who went wicketless in the first two matches of the tournament, hit his mark in subsequent matches. He has found his deadly yorkers and be among the wickets.
His numbers are exceptional: With 10 wickets in 6 matches he has an average of 14.20 and a brilliant economy of 6.17.
The exploits of both these fine bowlers now sees them vying for ICC Player of the Tournament award.
‘Shadab Khan has been one of Pakistan’s star performers in their run to the final of the tournament, starring with both bat and ball. He has been an impactful performer, picking up vital wickets in the middle overs while also playing the role of power-hitter in the middle order brilliantly,’ the ICC stated.
The ICC also heaped praise on Shaheen for making an impressive comeback in the tournament after recovering from a knee injury.
Pakistan’s hopes rest on this duo if they are to win their second T20 World Cup title — their first in 30 years — come Sunday.
- T20 World Cup 2022
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