Azam and Rizwan power Pakistan past New Zealand into T20 World Cup final | T20 World Cup 2022

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After the drama that carried Pakistan into the last four of the T20 World Cup, the miraculous, logic-defying comeback from losing their first two games of the tournament, it was almost inevitable that what followed would be entirely straightforward. They duly booked their place in Sunday’s final courtesy of a seven-wicket win over New Zealand in a game they dominated from the third ball of the night.

Finn Allen hit the first for four, the last moment when the Kiwis had the advantage. He was given out lbw off his second and successfully reviewed, but when he was given out lbw again off his third no review could save him – his was the first of two wickets for Shaheen Shah Afridi, who conceded only 24 off his four overs and looked worryingly close to his best for whichever of India or England wins Thursday’s second semi-final and qualifies to face Pakistan in Melbourne on Sunday.

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The last ball of the powerplay saw Devon Conway run out courtesy of a direct hit from Shadab Khan at mid-off, and Pakistan’s spinners proceeded to suck the life out of New Zealand’s innings. Kane Williamson scored a pedestrian 46 off 42, with only two boundaries, and though Daryl Mitchell dragged his side to a vaguely defendable total of 152 for four with an unbeaten 53 off 35 they still seemed well short of a par score.

The Black Caps’ bowler-heavy team is designed to defend such totals, but a ragged performance in the field– and particularly from Conway behind the stumps, most notably when he dropped Babar Azam in the first over – destroyed their chances. Both Pakistan openers went on to score half-centuries and by the time the first wicket fell, with the score on 105, they needed only fractionally more than a run a ball.

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As Tim Southee prepared to bowl the final over Pakistan needed only two to win. His first delivery was a wide, a moment that brought the scores level and summed up their night. Shan Masood scored a single off the next ball to finish it.

This was the 12th time New Zealand have reached the final four of a global tournament, but they are yet to win one. “Credit to Pakistan, they were too good today and we weren’t quite at our best,” Williamson said. “At the halfway stage we felt we had something to defend [but] Pakistan were outstanding with the bat and they ran that down with ease. We certainly wanted to make them work harder for those runs.”

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