Pakistan’s Mohammad Rizwan bats against New Zealand at Sydney Cricket Ground on Nov. 9, 2022. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Mohammad Rizwan Y Babar Azam criticized half a century as Pakistan past fed New Zealand by seven wickets and in the Twenty20 World Cup final on Wednesday, moving within one win of a second title.
They will face either England or India, who play Thursday in Adelaide, in the title decider at Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday (November 13).
Pakistan set the tone at the Sydney Cricket Ground with highly accurate fielding and disciplined bowling that restricted New Zealand to just 152-4.
In front of a strongly pro-Pakistani crowd of 36,443, Rizwan (57) and Azam (53) disrupted the Black Caps’ renowned bowling attack in an opening tier of 105 runs.
Despite a slightly jittery finish after both went down, Mohammad Haris’ 30 of 26 balls helped complete a deserved win with five balls to spare.
“Obviously Babar and I decided to look for the new ball and the field was difficult,” said Rizwan, who was named man of the match.
“When we finished the power play, the discussion was one of the guys to dig deeper. The guys have worked hard and we’ve always believed.”
Pakistan last claimed the title in 2009 at Lord’s in England when they beat Sri Lanka by eight wickets, and it’s been a rollercoaster ride to reach another final in Australia.
After painful last-ball defeats to India and Zimbabwe in the group stage, they bounced back to defeat the Netherlands and South Africa.
Then, against all odds, they went through as the Proteas were stunned by the Dutch and Pakistan edged out Bangladesh.
New Zealand, who topped Group 1, were aiming to reach the final for the second time in a row, but their quest for a maiden T20 title again fell short.
The teams batting first had won five of the six games played in Sydney this tournament and when Kane Williamson won the toss he had no hesitation in asking Pakistan to bowl but it proved difficult.
‘Hard pill to swallow’
In an eventful opening, Finn Allen hit Shaheen Afridi for four in the first delivery and then took the next lbw ball.
It was overturned on review due to an inside edge only for Afridi to quickly do the same thing again and this time he was in lead.
Conway was eliminated for 21 by Shadab Khan, who had a straight hit from the middle and they took a big hit when Glenn Phillips was caught and thrown by Mohammad Nawaz for six.
Daryl Mitchell and Williamson started taking more chances after reaching the 10-over mark 59-3 with the first six in the 13-over.
Williamson was beaten in the 46th by an Afridi Yorker after a knock that yielded just two bounds before Mitchell, unbeaten in the 53rd, and Jimmy Neesham, who scored 16, added 29 runs in the last three overs.
“At the halfway point we thought we had a competitive total but it was disappointing not to make Pakistan work harder,” said Williamson, who saw his side fire off a number of catchable opportunities in a sloppy fielding display.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow,” he said. “I think if we want to be honest, we wanted to be more disciplined with our areas. As I said, Pakistan deserved to win.”
Pakistan captain Azam, who was desperate for runs after making just 39 in five matches before the semi-final, was given the first ball by goalkeeper Conway off Trent Boult in reply.
But after his nervous start, he hammered a four out of Boult and teammate Rizwan also helped himself to two limits in a costly 15-run race for New Zealand.
They plundered more bounds from Tim Southee in another 15-run run, racing 0-55 from the power play and bringing out their century berth in 12th.
Azam mentioned his half-century before New Zealand had a glimmer of hope when he was caught deep in Boult and the same pitcher took out Rizwan.
“Thanks to the crowd,” Azam said. “It feels like we’re playing at home.”