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Pakistan through to semi-finals as Rizwan and Azam dominate again

Pakistan through to semi-finals as Rizwan and Azam dominate again
November 3, 2021 Web Desk

DUBAI – Pakistan became the first team to qualify for the semi-finals of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2021 with a comfortable victory over Namibia.

Pakistan are into the final four after a dominant victory over Namibia in Abu Dhabi.

The Group 2 leaders racked up an impressive 189/2 first up, and Namibia never looked like chasing it down, finishing on 144/5, still 45 runs short.

Babar Azam’s decision to bat first after winning the toss went against the tournament trend, with teams preferring to chase throughout the World Cup so far.

But Pakistan defied the norms to build a formidable target that set up their fourth straight win of the Super 12 stage.

Mohammad Rizwan top-scored with 70 off 49 balls, with his opening partner and captain Azam continuing their brilliant partnership with a 70 off his own.

Mohammad Hafeez added polish to the innings with a sparkling 32 off just 16 late on, with Pakistan scoring an eye-watering 130 runs in the last ten overs.

And in reply Namibia played well against the formidable Pakistan attack, but never looked likely to score fast enough on a tricky surface to chase down 190.

Steady in the Powerplay

The tactic in the Powerplay was clear from Pakistan, who looked to see off dangerman Ruben Trumpelmann and bide their time before accelerating later in the innings.

Trumpelmann’s two overs first up went for just two runs, with Rizwan particularly conservative, scoring at a strike rate below 50 through the fielding restrictions, reaching just 29/0 after six overs.

Acceleration through the middle overs

But the Pakistani pair made hay after their steady start, pushing through the gears in the middle overs.

And the return of Trumpelmann in the 12th over was the perfect illustration of the change of mindset, with 18 coming off it and Azam reaching his 23rd T20I half-century off 40 balls.

The inspired Azam did eventually fall for 70, holing out to deep midwicket off David Wiese.

And Fakhar Zaman was dismissed in the next over, caught superbly by Zane Green off Jan Frylinck.

Stunning late hitting

Just when it looked like the Pakistan innings might be stalling, out came Hafeez to take advantage of the platform laid by the opening pair.

The veteran’s surgical stroke-play saw him find the boundary five times in his sparkling 32.

But it was Rizwan who finished the innings in style, hitting 24 off the final over as he carried his bat through the innings and finished with 79* off 50.

Namibia’s reply

Shaheen Shah Afridi threatened with his high pace and swing first up for Pakistan.

But it was Ali who picked up the first scalp, shaping the ball back in through Michael van Lingen’s defences and crashing into middle stump.

Namibia struggled to up the run rate, but Baard and Williams did put together a decent recovery after the loss of Van Lingen, adding 46 for the second wicket before Baard was run out for a run-a-ball 29.

Skipper Gerhard Erasmus showed his power game with a quickfire 15 before falling to Imad Wasim in the 13th over, and Williams departed an over later for 40, miscuing to long-off.

And despite falling short of the target, Namibia had some late fun as David Wiese banged 43* off 31 to finish as his side's top-scorer.

Victory for Pakistan confirms their spot in the final four of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2021.-ICC