Shadab Khan's all-around heroism keeps Pakistan semi-final hopes alive

Shadab Khan’s all-around heroism keeps Pakistan semi-final hopes alive

Pakistan 185 for 9 (Shadab 52, Iftikhar 51, Nortje 4-41) defeated South Africa 108 for 9 of 14 overs (Bavuma 36, ​​Afridi 3-14, Shadab 2-16) per 33 runs (DLS method)

Pakistan kept their hopes alive in the semi-finals by winning in a rain-free and unmissable match against their favorite opponent: South Africa. They have met four times in the T20 World Cups and Pakistan have won all four encounters. With this latest result, there are no more teams left undefeated in this World Cup.

On a chilly Sydney evening, against the quick pace of Anrich Nortje and the slower-ball trickery of Lungi Ngidi, Pakistan recovered 95-for-5 to post their fifth-best score against South Africa, and the higher at World Cups. As their first order failed to draw once again, Iftikhar Ahmed and then Shadab Khan scored half centuries to bring Pakistan to a competitive scoreline. They were helped by a failing South African performance. They lost five catches – more than the other three tournament games combined – and there were several fumbles on a slippery outfield.

Pakistan was set up with the bat but won the game with the ball. Shaheen Shah Afridi brushed aside Quinton de Kock and Rilee Rossouw cheaply but Temba Bavuma played his best innings of 2022 and the chase went smoothly until the start of the round of 16. South Africa were 65 to 2, ahead of the DLS par of 58 at the time, when Shadab found Bavuma’s advantage. As the wicket fell, the DLS par rose to 66 and it rose to 77 two balls later when Aiden Markam was fired. When play was called off after nine overs, South Africa needed to be 85 to win, but were down 69 for 4.

A one-hour break cut six overs from the chase, and when play resumed South Africa needed 75 runs from the remaining five overs. Tristan Stubbs and Heinrich Klaasen – who replaced David Miller, who suffered from back spasms – were a little hesitant, but the demand was always going to be too great. South Africa remain second in the Group 2 standings behind India and must beat the Netherlands on Sunday to hold their fate in their own hands.

The blow of Haris

Mohammad Haris was parachuted into the Pakistan XI after Fakhar Zaman suffered a recurrence of the knee injury he has struggled with this year, and he made an immediate impact. He was hit on the grid from the second ball he faced – a short ball from Wayne Parnell – and it seemed to spur him into action. He slid into Kagiso Rabada’s opening and sent a half volley to the deep back square for six, then a pull to the thin leg for another six before creaming another short ball through the square leg to cost at South Africa their most expensive tournament so far: 17 runs.

Haris showed obvious strength playing the ball from the side of the leg, with shuffling through the stumps, and that was his downfall too. He missed a delivery from Anrich Nortje, got hit in line with a stump and received an lbw. His 28 out of 11 balls gave Pakistani Powerplay a boost, and they finished with the tournament’s highest Powerplay score, 42, even though they lost their first three.

Nawaz: out or not-out?

Iftikhar Ahmed and Mohammad Nawaz helped Pakistan recover 43 for 4 with a fifth wicket stand of 52 runs. They had moments of nervousness up front, when Iftikhar gloved the ball skyward to the right of Quinton de Kock. De Kock made a valiant one-handed effort and couldn’t hold on. Two balls later, Nawaz had a big advantage over de Kock, but the pair didn’t look back from there.

Iftikhar took advantage of failed lines and lengths from Rabada and Nawaz got his hands on Ngidi and then Shamsi. He pushed Shamsi to the deep midwicket, then set up for the sweep, but missed and was hit to the front cushion. Nawaz threw a run as he was out, then Lungi Ngidi’s direct hit found the stumps. Nawaz must have thought he was exhausted and didn’t see him again. Replays showed he had a thick bottom edge, and also that he made a mistake. The ball would have been dead the moment the umpire lifted his finger – before Ngidi’s throw – according to Law Nawaz would not have been released.

But maybe not such a bad thing
The dismissal of Nawaz brought Shadab Khan to the brink and Pakistan could have asked for nothing more. Shadab took a liking to Shamsi and scored 13 points on his final, which cost 15 in total, before throwing a full throw from Ngidi to a deep back square for four, driving Nortje halfway for another four and cutting it for six. Nortje opted to bowl in the end and blundered on an attempted yorker. Shadab sent the full pitch into the stands, then another longer, to return fifty balls from 20 – Pakistan’s second fastest fifty in T20I cricket. He put Pakistan a touching 200 away but then went big one too many times, was dropped by Aiden Markram in the long run and then caught by Tristan Stubbs at deep midwicket.

Overall, Pakistan scored 90 runs in the last seven overs.

Pakistan frenzied end
Shadab’s dismissal sparked an intense end to innings in which Pakistan lost four wickets for eight runs as Pakistan tried to cross the border with every ball. Mohammad Wasim dominated Nortje and Bavuma in the ring to take a running hold. In the final over, Iftikhar opted to take on Rabada and hit him long where Rilee Rossouw took a great hold. And Haris Rauf missed the last ball, as Pakistan rushed to run a fourth. Bavuma was the man who broke the stumps.

Afridi’s incredible beginnings
The Pakistani ace had a quiet start to the tournament, taking only one wicket in the opening three matches, and explained he was working full steam ahead after returning from injury. He got there in that game, when he started with a series of consecutive deliveries to de Kock, who was looking at the middle zone but couldn’t find it. De Kock got the last ball in the plus, but ended his effort against Haris at ringside. De Kock was fired for a duck. In his next over, Afridi caught the South African big fish, Rossouw, with a ball that didn’t deserve a wicket. It was short, wide and screamed “hit me”, and Rossouw agreed. He cut to the deep third where Naseem Shah ran to take the hold. South Africa was 16 to 2.

Shadab Double Strike
Bavuma played his most enjoyable and profitable innings of 2022 and scored 36 of 18 balls (including a scoop for six, which he tried and failed earlier in the tournament) and the hoodoo appeared to be broken. But Shadab continued to possess the night he was taken to the round of 16. He delivered a standard legbreak, Bavuma opened up the bat face to try and strike at third, and cut. This strike was crucial, as with the rain looming, it put South Africa behind DLS. After 7.1 overs, two downs, the par DLS was 59. With three downs, it rose to 66. South Africa was at 65 at the time. And it got worse for them. Two balls later, Shadab launched Markram with a topspinner, as the batter came back to try to cut, and South Africa was 66 for 4. The teams were retired nine balls later, and it was clear that Shadab had a decisive hand in this match.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s correspondent in South Africa

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