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Unbeaten Pakistan cruises to semis in T20 World Cup

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SHARJAH  – Pakistan beat Scotland by 72 runs in the penultimate match of the Super 12 stage as Babar Azam’s side wrapped up top spot in Group 2. 

Pakistan produced a dominant performance in their final Super 12 game to brush Scotland aside in Sharjah and finish top of Group 2 with five wins from five. Captain Babar Azam was in the runs again for his side, hitting a glorious 66 off 47, with quickfire contributions from Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez, helping Pakistan to a sizeable total of 189/4. And in reply, Scotland survived but got a little stuck against the quality of Pakistan’s attack, reaching just 117/6 still 72 runs short. 

Pakistan’s fifth straight win means they qualify top of Group 2, ahead of New Zealand, who beat Afghanistan earlier in the day to seal their own qualification. They will face Australia in the second semi-final in Dubai on Thursday, with the Black Caps playing England a day earlier in Abu Dhabi. 

Scotland end bottom of Group 2 after five defeats, but will take heart from a Round 1 performance that included a win over Bangladesh and their resulting qualification for the next ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. 

Openers Mohammad Rizwan and Azam got Pakistan off to a solid start, before Rizwan edged a flighted Hamza Tahir delivery to the keeper. But the skipper kept the momentum going, hitting one particularly spectacular six out of the stadium, as he built a platform for his team. Fakhar Zaman’s stay in the middle came to an end when he miscued a Chris Greaves delivery to Michael Leask as his disappointing run of form continued. But Babar was still out in the middle at the midway point of the innings as Pakistan reached 60/2.  

The Pakistan skipper punished Scotland through the middle overs before finally falling for an outstanding 66 in the 18th over – an innings that featured eight boundaries and some glorious strokeplay. Azam’s knock takes him above Jos Buttler as the highest run-scorer of the tournament so far, with 264 runs from five innings. And the Pakistan captain’s half-century was his fourth of the Super 12 stage.  

Pakistan were already on course for a decent total, but that became a monster total when first Hafeez and then Malik went big to punish Scotland in dramatic fashion. Hafeez’s 31 off 19 upped the scoring rate through the middle overs before he fell in the 15th. But Malik’s onslaught was on another level, with Scotland having no answer to the veteran’s power. Malik hit three maximums in the final over to record his own half-century, reaching 54 off just 18 balls in a masterful display of power-hitting.  

Scotland’s opening pair survived the early threat of Shaheen Shah Afridi, but struggled to get going under immense pressure from Pakistan’s attack. And the need to score ultimately did for Coetzer, who went for a big shot in the sixth over and connected with just air as Hasan Ali’s slower ball clattered into the stumps. Matthew Cross was run out at the non-striker’s end to compound Scotland’s issues, as they were tied down to just 41/2 in ten overs. 

A double strike by Shadab Khan straight after the drinks break only strengthened Pakistan’s control of the chase. Opener George Munsey had been denied his preferred sweep shot during a patchy 17 off 31, and edged to short third going for a big shot off the first ball of the 11th over. And Dylan Budge went two balls later without scoring, cleaned up by a googly. 

Afridi returned to remove Leask with a full and straight ball that sent the bails flying through the air like the sparks from a roman candle. And Haris Rauf completed a terrific day for Pakistan with the wicket of Chris Greaves in the final over as Scotland finished six down. Richie Berrington was the standout performer with the bat for Scotland as he made unbeaten on 54.  

SCORES IN BRIEF 

PAKISTAN 189 for 4 (Babar 66, Malik 54*) beat SCOTLAND 117 for 6 (Berrington 54*, Shadab 2-14) by 72 runs.




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