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Afridi leads Pakistan to WT20 final

June 20, 2009 00:09 IST

Afridi leads Pakistan to WT20 final

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Opener Kamran Akmal got Pakistan off to a flier, scoring two boundaries in the first over of the innings by Dale Steyn, both through the point region.

But it was South Africa who drew first blood in this high-profile encounter, claiming the wicket of Shahzaib Hasan for a duck in the second over. The Pakistan opener top-edged an intended pull shot off left-armer Wayne Parnell which was brilliantly held by Roelof van der Merwe, running back at mid-on.

Shahid Afridi's superb all-round showing saw Pakistan down South Africa by seven runs to storm into their second successive final of the ICC World Twenty20 in Trent Bridge, Nottingham, on Thursday.


Image: Young Pakistani fans enjoy their time at the semi-final match

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Akmal was unfazed by the dismissal of Hasan and he hit consecutive boundaries off the next two deliveries and Shahid Afridi followed it up, slamming another one straight down the ground.

Akmal then smashed Steyn for a huge six over mid-off. However, it was the over-exuberance that cost him his wicket.

The Pakistan wicketkeeper, beaten for pace as he tried to pull Steyn, handed a simple catch to Albie Morkel at mid-on after a quick 23 from 12 deliveries.


Image: Dale Steyn celebrates as he claims the wicket of Kamran Akmal

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Afridi leads Pakistan to WT20 final

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South Africa kept Afridi quiet for nearly five overs, denying him a boundary, till he broke the shackles with a lofted four over mid-on off van der Merwe as Pakistan reached 68 for two at the halfway stage.

The batsman then took Botha to the cleaners, hitting four consecutive boundaries in the 11th over. The first three boundaries were crashed through the cover region while the fourth one was late cut through the third man region.

Afridi completed his half-century off 33 deliveries, inclusive of eight boundaries, in the 12th over; he was now threatening to take the game away from the Proteas.

Graeme Smith then took a gamble by introducing part-timer JP Duminy; the move paid off big time with the wicket of Afridi. The Pakistan batsman, who smashed 51 from34 deliveries, tried to slog sweep Duminy but got a top edge which was taken by AB de Villiers at midwicket.


Image: Shahid Afridi scored a good half-century

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Shoaib Malik played second fiddle for most part of his innings while Afridi was attacking from the other end. But after his departure he looked to up the ante. He bagged his first boundary off the 30th ball he faced when he swept a full toss from van der Merwe through square leg.

Image: Shoaib Malik on his way to 34

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In the next over, Malik slammed Duminy over the cover region for a boundary and Younis Khan followed it up with a reverse swept boundary three balls later as Pakistan reached a healthy 120 for three after 15 overs.

Malik fell in van der Merwe's next over when he lofted him straight to Botha at the long-off boundary after scoring 34 from 39 deliveries.

South Africa managed to keep things tight in the final overs as just 24 runs were scored in four overs without any boundaries between the 16th and 19th over.

Parnell ensured the batsmen didn't get away in the final over, conceding just five runs as Pakistan were restricted to 149 for four in their 20 overs.


Image: Captain Younis Khan scored an unbeaten 24

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Jacques Kallis survived a few nervy moments at the start of his innings before unleashing a delightful boundary through the covers off Abdul Razzaq in the first over. Mohammad Aamer was greeted to the crease with a boundary through point region by Kallis followed by an edged boundary two balls later.

South Africa openers kept it quite steady in the first few overs and didn't look to go all out. Smith, on 8, got a lifeline in the fifth over when Umar Gul dropped a high catch in the mid-off region off Razzaq. Kallis then hit a boundary straight down the ground as South Africa reached 39 for no loss after five overs.

Smith's charmed life didn't last for long. He top edged a pull shot and was caught by the bowler Aamer for a subdued knock of 10 from 14 deliveries in the sixth over.


Image: Mohammad Aamer (2nd from left) celebrates the wicket of Graeme Smith

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Herschelle Gibbs welcomed Afridi to the bowling crease with a boundary but the leg-spinner had his revenge a few deliveries later. Gibbs, who made 5, was beaten by the straighter delivery that went on to knock the off stump.

In his next over, he claimed another big scalp in the form of AB de Villiers, who played on to his stumps for 1. De Villiers was dropped by wicketkeeper Akmal off an outside edge in his previous delivery but that did not deter him and he struck one ball later.

Afridi had made the difference with the bat and he was making a vital contribution with the ball too. South Africa reached 73 for three after 13 overs but faced a stiff task of scoring another 77 runs in the last seven overs.


Image: Shahid Afridi celebrates after dismissing Herschelle Gibbs

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With Duminy struggling to get the ball off the park, Kallis took the onus to look for the boundaries as the run rate kept creeping up. He crashed Gul through the covers for a boundary in the 14th over and followed it up with another boundary and six off Fawad Alam in the next over. That also brought up his half-century in 46 deliveries with South Africa reaching 98 for three in 15 overs, needing 52 in the last five overs.

Image: Jacques Kallis scored a well-made half-century

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The South Africans' reputation of choking in major tournaments continued. They have never made it to the final of any World Cup and have now lost four times in the semi-finals, including thrice in the 50-over World Cup.

The second semi-final will be played between West Indies and Sri Lanka at the Oval, on Friday.


Image: Pakistani fans celebrate their team's victory over South Africa

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