Shades of ’92 deja vu as resurgent Pakistan power past New Zealand into World Cup final

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Pakistan’s T20 World Cup campaign looked dead and buried just three days ago but they are now one win away from lifting the trophy after vanquishing New Zealand in a seven-wicket stunner at the SCG on Wednesday night.

They are the first team through to Sunday’s final at the MCG where they will take on bitter rivals India or England after they lock horns on Thursday night at Adelaide Oval.

If Pakistan play England in the final it will be a similar scenario to the one-day World Cup final at the same venue 30 years ago when Imran Khan’s team scraped into the semis, eliminated the Black Caps before winning the tournament when all seemed lost.

Pakistan are chasing their second T20 World Cup win after claiming victory in 2008.

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Their bowlers set up the SCG triumph by restricting the Kiwis to 4-152 and then opening duo Babar Azam and Muhammed Rizwan posted a 105-run partnership to lay the platform for Pakistan to negotiate their way to the target with five balls and seven wickets to spare.

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Babar was dropped first ball by keeper Devin Conway off a difficult chance from the bowling of Trent Boult and the struggling Pakistani skipper cashed in on his good fortunre to race away to 53 off 42, his first half-century of the tournament.

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It wouldn’t be Pakistan without a few late heart flutters – Rizwan was run out for 57 off 43 at the end of the 17th over after a mid-wicket mix-up with Mohammad Haris following an outfield catch by Glenn Phillips off a waist-high no-ball.

Haris didn’t go into his shell though, smashing Lochie Ferguson for a superb cover drive to the boundary in the next over and then lofting him 30 rows back into the SCG stands with a crushing pull shot.

He surrendered his wicket after bashing 30 off 26 while trying to hit the winning blow with two runs left on the target.

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New Zealand kicked off the Super 12 stage on the same ground three weeks ago with a glorious win over Australia but after topping their group, “they have saved their worst till last,” according to former Kiwi keeper Ian Smith on commentary.

A counter-attacking Daryl Mitchell half-century saved New Zealand’s blushes earlier in the evening.

After the Black Caps slumped to 3-59 at the halfway mark, Mitchell hit an unbeaten 53 off 35 balls in a 68-run fourth-wicket stand with Kane Williamson.

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It was Mitchell in particular who lifted the tempo, helping take 14 runs off the 11th over from Shadab Khan to give New Zealand back some momentum.

He also hit a big six down the ground off the spinner later in the innings, with the leggie proving Pakistan’s most expensive bowler at the SCG.

Any hopes New Zealand had of setting an imposing target batting first were quickly scuppered by an on-song pace attack led by Shaheen Shah Afridi. 

Shaheen (2-24) put Pakistan on top from the opening over when he trapped the dangerous Finn Allen lbw for four, a ball after having an appeal overturned on review.

The left-armer also bowled Williamson for 46 with an off-pace ball when the New Zealand captain tried to ramp him, slowing the Black Caps’ momentum late.

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