Marcus Stoinis and Matthew Wade
Brilliant performances with the bat from David Warner, Marcus Stoinis and Matthew Wade have lifted Australia to a five-wicket victory over Pakistan and into the final of the Twenty20 World Cup against New Zealand.
Set what would be a tournament-high successful run chase of 177 after Pakistan made 4-176, Australia benefited from a scintillating start from Warner before Wade finished things off with three consecutive sixes in the 19th over off fast bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi.
One ball earlier Wade had been dropped in the outfield by Hasan Ali.
The dropped catch proved costly in a match that was played on the edge from the get go and Pakistan captain Babar Azam seemed to know it.
"If we had taken that catch, it might have made the difference," Babar said.
Australia were far from assured of victory as their run chase got off to the worst possible start with Aaron Finch out for a golden duck before bad luck and a contentious decision cost a rampaging Warner his wicket.
Captain Finch was gone on just the third ball of the innings to an unplayable delivery from Afridi that beat the Australian for pace and came back off the pitch to trap Finch leg before.
Mitch Marsh appeared to also be trapped LBW on the very next delivery as a sizzling yorker that brought back memories of Pakistan great Wasim Akram slammed into Marsh's front foot but a big shout from Pakistan left umpire Chris Gaffaney unmoved.
As the partisan crowd chanted "Afridi, Afridi" Pakistan reviewed the decision with emphatic confidence and replays showed the late-swinging ball to be cannoning into the edge of leg stump but it was sent back "umpires call" as Marsh got a life.
Australia could have been 2-1 and staring down the barrel of an ignominious slaughter akin to the one they suffered earlier in the tournament at the hands of England but Marsh and Warner steadied the ship with some big-hitting and elegant strokeplay.
Warner, in particular, upped the ante in the fourth over as he sent Imad Wasim into the second tier of the stands with a massive six before finding the boundary twice more.
Marsh then joined in as he gave Haris Rauf similar treatment in the very next over.
That came to an end when Marsh top-edged a slog sweep from the bowling off Shadab Khan and he was caught in the deep by Asif Ali for 28.
Warner, though, continued to brutalise Pakistan and — in something more likely to be seen in your average park cricket game — Mohammad Hafeez came into the Pakistan attack and with his first ball got it stuck, bowling a delivery that bounced twice before Warner smashed it into the upper deck.
Adding insult to injury it was deemed a no-ball and a free-hit.
Steve Smith came and went quickly, out in similar fashion to Marsh before him, then on the first ball after the mid-innings break Warner was caught behind for 49 off the bowling of Shadab, who took 4-26.
Replays suggested Warner, who walked after being given out, should have reviewed, with no spike on ultra edge as the ball passed the bat with a large gap.
After Glenn Maxwell also fell to Shadab, it looked like Pakistan had a significant advantage but Stoinis and Wade would not be denied.
Both took a few balls to get set before Wade, in particular, did the damage as he made 41 not out from just 17 deliveries.
His innings included four sixes, three off the final three balls of the innings, as he hit Afridi over the fence with a ramp shot to end it.
Finch was full of praise for Wade and Stoinis, for the way they kept their heads in the final overs.
"The way Matty Wade held his nerve under pressure at the back end was unbelieve that partnership with Stoinis was crucial," Finch said.
Wade said while the extent of his role had yet to hit him he simply knew he had to go hard at it towards the end.
"They went a little bit more pace on than I expected," Wade said.
"I could have used [the ramp shot] earlier, but I was glad to get a couple out of the middle at the end.
"At that stage, it was two-a-ball, so it was, 'If you get one in your arc you have got to hit it'.
"Luckily, I had Stoin' and, to be honest, he got us to a total where if we could get a couple of sixes away we would get them."
Had Australia have lost the match they would have, in many ways, had only themselves to blame.
While Warner's lack of a review could have hurt, Australia's dropped catches — which Finch described as "sloppy" — gave Pakistan's batsmen every chance to hurt Australia and hurt them on the scoreboard they did.
Mohammad Rizwan was dropped twice on his way to 67.
He was first dropped on 0 early in his innings, when Warner spilled a catch a fieldsman of his class arguably should have held, then a few overs later Adam Zampa dropped Rizwan on 20 while diving forward for a catch.
Rizwan made Australia pay. As did Fakhar Zaman.
Zaman was dropped on 39 by Smith in what should have been a fairly regulation catch before the batter added 14 more runs to finish 55 not out at the end of Pakistan's innings, including two mammoth sixes off Mitchell Starc's final over.
But it mattered not in the end as Warner redeemed himself with the bat and helped set up a Trans-Tasman T20 final.
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