Wade chips away wood shavings off Pakistan target; Hasan drops crucial catch & Warner has eventful outing and exit

Emotional Rollercoaster: Australia pip Pakistan as Warner, Wade, Stoinis steer them into first T20 final.

Wood, Willow, Wins

No one had even properly hit, forget clobbered, Shaheen Afridi recently. Until the moustachioed Matthew Wade came up with two mind-bogglingly sweet lap shots and a regular heave-ho off Afridi to win the game.

Three years ago, he was out of the team, and was falling out of love with the game and realised the need for another life skill. He decided to take up carpentry. “I worked for about nine or 10 months which was cool. I was doing two main sessions a week with the team and the rest of the time I would go do a 5am session with my boss before work.” Unlike public perception, he was actually relieved that Tim Paine became the wicketkeeper. “The night a game before I would be stressed about keeping – for 10 years I did that,” Wade said. “I was like ‘oh I have got to keep tomorrow, I hope I don’t f*** it up” The carpentry worked, his love for game returned, and here he is chiseling a famous triumph in a world-cup semi-final.

Rizwan aspires, then perspires

At the end of 5 overs, Rizwan Ali signalled to the dugout that he needed to change his gloves. In the 14 balls he had faced, it was clear he had sweaty palms. He looked eager, hurried and a bundle of nerves. Rizwan looked every bit a player who had been thinking about his first ICC knockout all night. Against the pacers, he was misjudging the line and pace . He couldn’t cut, drive or pull. Not that he wasn’t trying but this didn’t seem like his day. The presence of Babar Azam, middling every ball and reading each trick of the Aussie bowler, made it more embarrassing for Rizwan. Together they were like chalk and paneer. With spinner Maxwell coming in to bowl, the wicket-keeper-opener’s eyes lit up. He danced down the track and lifted the ball over mid-on. Warner sprinted back, reached the ball but couldn’t hold the ball. Finally, on the final ball of the 4th over, bowled by Cummins, Rizwan connected one. And it was only after that, that he thought of changing his gloves.

Busy Warner bees

It was not the case of wherever David Warner went, the ball followed. Rather, wherever the ball went, Warner followed. A muscled-bundle of energy on the field, the Australian opener spiritedly, and sometimes, futilely chased the ball. Like the Mohammed Rizwan skier he dropped. The ball was miscued so high that the sky seemed to devour the ball. But Warner, stationed at mid-off, sped off, both eyes on the ball’s arc, like a freight train. Alas, he let the ball burst through his palms and fell flat on his torso. He was gutted, but not defeated. A few balls later, Babar Azam scrunched a lovely cover-drive, when again he chased and bisected just before it brushed the advertisement board to save a definite boundary. When he was not chasing, he was flinging around, and when he was not flinging around, he was always pep-talking some of the under-the-weather bowlers. Coming back to his sprinting, the year before, he hired a sprint coach, Roger Fabri, to rev his speed. And if Fabri is to be believed, “the opener is nearly as fast over 20 metres as some of the best NRL players.” “Some of my athletes wouldn’t find that in a lifetime,” he told Nine.

Double bounce SIX; no double take on wicket

What just happened there? Did David Warner get an edge or not? He had no hesitation to walk off once the umpire raised his finger but the Snickometer didn’t snitch at all. Quiet as a mouse. In a potentially game-turning moment, Warner, after a wonderful 30-ball 49, went for a furious cover-drive off the legspinner Shadab Khan. The ball rustled past the bat and there was a sound and up went the Pakistanis. The wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan, fresh from an important fifty after spending some time at the hospital for a lung infection, and Khan, who bowled as wonderfully as his leg spinning counterpart Adam Zampa had earlier done, had no doubts. Warner first practiced that shot again as he waited for the umpire’s decision and off he went, sighing, moaning, groaning, and looking up at the skies. As the big screen showed the snick-silence, the Australian coach Justin Longer had a look of bewilderment.

Until then, it was some knock though and the highlight was a monstrous six off a ball that bounced twice from Mohammad Hafeez. Warner didn’t blink but rushed down the track and lunged to absolutely tonk it to midwicket stands. AB de Villiers had been once out in a Test match, off one such delivery from Mohammad Ashraful. He had lingered on after miscuing a catch, had a word with the umpires too, and in the dressing room Graeme Smith threw a fit at the decision. It was the correct decision of course by Steve Bucknor. Law 24, section 6 states that the umpire shall call a no-ball only if it bounces more than twice before reaching the popping crease. Later, de Villiers would say: “I was aware of the rule but I was hoping for someone to call it a no-ball or whatever,” he said. “It is the first time in my career that I have been dismissed in such a fashion.” Warner had plundered it for a six only to get out in a quirky fashion.


Just dropped the World Cup

The five dreaded words – mythical or not – the last time Australia whisked away a World Cup semifinal. On Friday in a full-house with a partisan Pakistan crowd, it was the unfortunate Hasan Ali who got caught up in a headrush and then didn’t catch the dipping parabola that could’ve stubbed Matthew Wade who was on a six-hitting spree. Wade had miscued to the left of deep midwicket where Hasan over-ran it for some reason and couldn’t adjust in time. Momentum uncurbed; he would spread his arms wide with a sigh the moment it spilled out of his palms before collecting it to throw it back. Malik came over for a consolation tap but he was looking grim at a distance at nothing in particular. The ramp shots would follow, increasing his agony. And it all ended in a jiffy. Chris Jordan last night; Tonight Hasan. Both can get on a zoom call and sigh about life and other devilish twist-turning things.

Shoaib, the considerate

If there was a Nobel Prize for thoughtfulness, Shoaib Malik would get one. The clips of him walking over to Hasan Ali and patting his back should be shown to junior cricketers and should be archived by ICC forever. After conceding 15 runs in the 18th over, Hasan had let the advantage slip. His day went from bad to worst-ever when, while fielding on the fence, he dropped the eventual match-winner Mathew Wade in the next over. Those praying for a Pakistan win threw up their hands. The sight of an entire stadium holding their heads was eerie. Had he been a Star-Trek fan, Hasan would have said, “Beam me up, Scotty”. Malik felt his mate’s pain. He held up play to have a word with the man in a daze. He seemed to be telling him to relax. Malik made the crowd realise that Hasan needed sympathy. Suddenly, the mood changed, there were claps all-round. But Wade ensured Pakistan fans would have their heads in their hands again.

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