Babar, Rizwan star before Haris steers Pakistan to T20 World Cup final

SYDNEY: Pakistan’s mainstay Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan smashed astounding fifties as the two gathered for their ninth centurion opening stand to take Pakistan to the final of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 as they thrashed New Zealand by seven wickets in the first semi-final, here on Wednesday.

Pakistan reached the final for the third time in T20 World Cups as the struggling opening duo broke out of their slumps and showed their domination just at the right time.

Set to chase 153, Pakistan completely dominated the New Zealand bowling attack and chased down the target with five balls to spare as the openers raised a sensational 105-run partnership in 76 balls, steering to a commanding position in the game.

Energetic batter Mohammad Haris, on the other hand, smacked two fours and a huge six as he scored 30 off 26 before he was dismissed by Mitchell Santner with Pakistan just a hit away from victory.

Player of the match, Rizwan, top-scored for the side with his scintillating 43-ball 57, including five boundaries while Babar scored 53 off 42, raising his 30th T20I fifty. The skipper blasted seven scintillating fours during his impressive knock which was cut short by Trent Boult in the 13th over.

Following Babar’s dismissal, Haris joined the No.2 T20I batter on the crease and hoisted 27 runs for the second wicket before Boult got rid of Rizwan on a full toss just below the waistline in the 17th over and caught at the covers.

Earlier in the first innings, all-rounder Daryl Mitchell and skipper Kane Williamson braved the furious bowling attack despite early scares and took New Zealand to 152/4 after they opted to bat first.

Mitchell starred with a glittering half-century while the Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson played a cautious knock of 42-ball 46 as the two gathered for a valiant 68-run partnership for the fourth wicket.

Pakistan bowlers kept the New Zealand batters on their toes right from the start as pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi had the breakthrough in the very first over, dismissing in-form Finn Allen cheaply on the third ball.

Opener Devon Conway then anchored the New Zealand innings, alongside the skipper with a cautious 34-run partnership and took the scoreboard to 38/1 before Shadab Khan’s direct hit forced Conway’s ouster on the last delivery of the powerplay.

Captain Babar Azam was spot-on with his bowling changes in the middle as Mohammad Nawaz struck down Glenn Phillips (6 off 8) cheaply in his first over.

Mitchell’s 53* off 35, however, cruised the Blackcaps to a fighting total amid the fine display of death bowling by Pakistan as Shaheen Afridi dislodged the well-set Williamson in the 17th over before Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf bowled on the right areas with express pace to deny Kiwi batters any room to free their arms.