Pakistan hardly put a foot wrong and dominated pretty much from start to finish, beating New Zealand by seven wickets in their World Cup semi-final clash at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Wednesday.
The reward for them is an entry in the World Cup final opposite one of England and India on Sunday. If it turns out to be the former, than it would keep them on track to replicate the template of their successful World Cup run from 30 years ago when they had come back from the dead to beat the Kiwis in the semis and England in the final.
They had a nightmare start to the day as Babar Azam lost the toss and was forced to field first when he’d have liked to bat. Then, on the first ball of the over, their star pacer Shaheen Afridi was hit for a four. From that point on, however, it was all Pakistan.
From bowling to fielding and even decision making, Babar and Co got every single thing right as the Kiwis were a distant second. Set a target of 153, it was expected that the out-of-form pairing of Babar and Mohammad Rizwan could struggle. Those concerns were quickly put to bed as the Pakistan openers dominated Kiwi pacers.
Both the star openers, after a tournament’s worth of struggles, came alive when it mattered the most and scored half centuries each. The pair did not stay till the end, but their body of work was enough to let latter batters get the team over the line comfortably.