Pakistan's Road To Glory

Pakistan Through To Cricket World Twenty20 Final

Shahid Afridi celebrates a wicket

Shahid Afridi celebrates a wicket

Pakistan 149-4 (Shahid Afridi 51, Shoiab Malik 34) beat
South Africa 142-5 (Jacques Kallis 64, Afridi 2-16) by 7 runs

Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi could not have picked a better time to return to form as a half-century and two wickets from him helped his side beat South Africa by seven runs to seal a spot in the ICC World Twenty20 final.

Afridi smashed 51 in 34 balls to propel Pakistan to 149 for four and then took two wickets, bowling his four overs for just 16 runs as South Africa closed on 142 for five as they wrote another unwanted chapter in their history of semi-final losses.

Afridi was simply brilliant, promoted to bat at number three after Shahzaib Hasan fell for a two-ball duck, hitting eight fours, including hitting Johan Botha out of the attack with three in three balls as he built on a superb start given to Pakistan after first Younus Khan had won the toss and chosen to bat and Kamran Akmal crashed 23 in 12 balls.

Steyn had Akmal caught in the third over before Afridi and Shoiab Malik (34) added 67 for the third wicket and it was a relieved South Africa when he departed, caught by AB de Villiers as he tried to hit JP Duminy’s first ball out of the park.

Younus Khan scored an unbeaten 24 in 18 balls while Abdul Razzaq was unbeaten on 12 at the end of the innings.

South Africa set off at a good pace, Jacques Kallis (64) dominating an opening stand of 40 before Graeme Smith was well held by 17-year-old Mohammad Aamer off his own bowling. Having watched Umar Gul miss a chance earlier on, Aamer was in no mood to let anyone else near it and that set up the Afridi show, part two.

He bowled Herschelle Gibbs (5) and de Villiers (1) to leave the match in the balance with South Africa at 50 for three but a half-century stand between Kallis and Duminy, who was unbeaten on 44, kept the Proteas in the game. To a certain degree, it also kept Pakistan in contention, because the runs weren’t coming quickly enough, despite the pair sharing ten fours and two sixes.

Umar Gul played his part, spearing his yorkers in to keep the runs down and it was Saeed Ajmal who grabbed the breakthrough when Kallis, who had just helped smash Fawad Alam for 15 runs in his one over, offered a high catch which was gratefully and skilfully held by Shoaib Malik.

That brought Albie Morkel to the crease, but the task was too much even for him and although Duminy hit Aamer, a bold choice to bowl the final over, for a six over midwicket, the left-armer bounced back and when Morkel was run out by Alam with a direct hit from long-off, it was effectively game over.

All Aamer had to do was hold his nerve; he did, Pakistan held on to win a thriller and now they have a shot at redemption after they lost to rivals India by just five runs in South Africa in 2007.

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