Pakistan’s victory against South Africa in the semi-final of the Twenty20 World Cup was certainly a team effort. But let’s be honest – one man stood out, and it was none other than Shahid Khan Afridi. The big fella had been excellent with the ball throughout the tournament and had shown several moments of brilliance on the field. But his power hitting with the bat had been missing for a long time.
Pakistan has won the toss and elected to bat first on what is expected to be slow and low wicket during the first world T20 semi-final.
Pakistan played with an unchanged side from the one which beat the Kiwis and Ireland to secure a place in the semis, while South Africa have made one change from the team which beat India, with the dangerous Kallis coming in for fast-bowler Morne Morkel.
Pakistan got off to a blazing start through keeper Kamran Akmal’s 12 ball 23. However the South Africans clawed their way back into the game to dismiss both openers and keep Pakistan to 47/2.
Afridi strode out to bat at number three, smashing a 34 ball 51 before holing out to J P Duminy. A match-changing innings from Afridi was long overdue, and when Younus Khan sent Afridi to bat one-down, breaths were held and quiet prayers muttered, hoping that the big man would deliver.
Younis Khan and Shoaib Malik kept up the pressure till Malik skied one to Botha in the deep. It looked at that stage as if Pakistan would end up with a score in the region of 160 to 170. However, some excellent death bowling from South Africa’s fast men kept the dangerous Pakistani middle order quiet.
After 20 overs, Pakistan finished with 149/4. Shahid Afridi shone with bat and ball. The maverick batsman smashed 51 from 34 balls and then grabbed 2-16 with his leg-spin as Pakistan successfully defended 149-4 to restrict the favored Proteas to 142-5 before a sell-out crowd at Trent Bridge to storm into the World Twenty20 final.
Pakistan, runners-up to India in the inaugural World Twenty20 in South Africa two years ago, await the winners of Friday’s semi-final between Sri Lanka and the West Indies in Sunday’s final at Lord’s.
Afridi plundered eight boundaries, including four in succession off Johan Botha, after Pakistan elected to bat on a wicket that slowed down as the evening progressed.
Veteran Jacques Kallis made a brave attempt to take the South Africans home, striking seven fours and a six in 64 from 54 balls, but the other batsmen faltered against the spot-on attack.
Pakistan 149 for 4 (Afridi 51, Malik 34) beat South Africa 142 for 5 (Kallis 64, Duminy 44*, Afridi 2-16) by seven runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details