Pakistan captain Babar Azam acknowledged that Hasan Ali's drop of Matthew Wade was crucial as Australia made it into the T20 World Cup final.

Mohammed Rizwan (67) led the way before fireworks from Fakhar Zaman (55 not out) guided Pakistan to 176-4 from their 20-over allocation in Thursday's semi-final.

Australia were then teetering on the brink in response when Glenn Maxwell was dismissed, leaving Aaron Finch's side 96-5 after 12.2 overs and requiring a further 81 off 46 balls.

However, Wade (41 not out) – who finished with three straight sixes after being dropped by Ali in the penultimate over – and Marcus Stoinis (40 not out) edged Australia to victory to tee up a final with New Zealand.

The result came as somewhat of a surprise given Pakistan coasted through Group 2 with five wins from their five games to set up the semi-final with Australia, who nudged through Group 1 on net run rate.

After the game, Babar pinpointed the missed chance – in which Ali dropped Wade on the deep-midwicket boundary from Shaheen Afridi's bowling – as the defining moment in a contest of fine margins.

"When you give teams like Australia a chance, they take the match away from you," Babar said post-match. "If that catch that Hasan Ali dropped had been taken, maybe the result would have been different.

"As a player, you have to be on your toes and avail any opportunity you get. We made a mistake and it cost us the match."

Pakistan's dominant performance up until the knockout stages included a historic 10-wicket victory over India and a five-wicket win over New Zealand, who succeeded against England in Wednesday's semi-final.

Babar pointed to his team's prior performances as he expressed his pride in Pakistan's efforts, despite Australia's lower middle order once again stunning them as they did in the 2010 T20 World Cup semi-final.

"The way we played the tournament and gelled together as a team, I am very satisfied with my team's efforts as captain," he continued.

"We'll try and learn from our mistakes and come back stronger. When you play a big tournament so well, it's good but you have to perform on the day. You can't relax in any department.

"We'll try and continue our efforts; how we performed gave us confidence and we'll try and build on from that.

"The roles we had defined for everyone, they executed brilliantly, and you saw that from us on the field. The way the crowd supported us was very enjoyable. We always enjoy ourselves here and I'm thankful to the fans back home for supporting us."

Aaron Finch lauded the depth of his Australia squad as they dug deep to beat Pakistan and advance to the T20 World Cup final, led by Matthew Wade's late show.

Australia were set 177 to win after putting Pakistan in to bat in Thursday's second semi-final.

"I was actually hoping I'd lose the toss and try to bat first on that wicket," captain Finch said afterwards. "I thought it would be nice to put a total on the board in the semi-final."

The Australia skipper was delighted with how his decision panned out, though, as his team followed New Zealand's example against England and chased down a daunting target with an over to spare.

Finch's men looked to be in trouble when they were reduced to 96-5 in the 13th over, having lost the captain for a golden duck as Pakistan made a rapid start.

But Australia have dangerous options right down their batting line-up and an unbroken partnership of 81 off just 41 deliveries between Wade (41) and Marcus Stoinis (40) stunned Pakistan.

"I thought we were actually pretty sloppy today. We dropped a couple of chances in the field, a couple of really, really tough ones, no doubt," Finch said.

"But I think it shows the depth of our team at the moment, which is really important. You need the support of all 17 players in your squad to get across the line. We played some really good cricket towards the back end."

Wade finished with three straight sixes immediately after being dropped by the hapless Hasan Ali, and he said: "When I got out there with Marcus, he was really confident we'd get them, even though I was a little unsure.

"He found the boundaries early on, and I was happy to chip in at the end. It got down to two a ball, and from there it was: if you got one in your arc, just try to hit it.

"It probably hasn't sunk in yet but I'm just happy I could contribute. I was out of the team a couple of years ago and I'm just glad I got an opportunity and repaid the faith."

Australia successfully executed another astonishing semi-final run chase to beat Pakistan by five wickets and join New Zealand in the T20 World Cup final.

New Zealand had stunned England in the first semi on Thursday, and Australia followed suit thanks to Matthew Wade's unbeaten 41 off 17, taking the match away from Pakistan just as they looked to be in the driving seat.

As in the encounter between the Black Caps and England, momentum swung back and forth in an epic at Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

Australia won the toss and decided to bowl, but David Warner and Adam Zampa each dropped early half-chances from Mohammad Rizwan, who capitalised to score 67 in building big partnerships with Babar Azam (39) and Fakhar Zaman (55 not out).

Zaman hit seven boundaries, including four sixes, off just 32 balls to ensure a big finish and a total of 176-4, and Pakistan were in the ascendancy as Shaheen Shah Afridi (1-35) then made a blistering start with the ball, removing Aaron Finch for a duck and seeing Mitchell Marsh survive only by umpire's call from the very next delivery.

But the depth of Australia's batting line-up kept them in with a shout as they were left with enough depth even after David Warner (49) fell to Shadab Khan (4-26).

A mammoth undefeated partnership of 81 off just 41 deliveries between Wade and Marcus Stoinis (40 no) got the job done, although it should have been halted by Hasan Ali, who dropped Wade off Afridi in the middle of the 19th over.

Wade's response was ruthless, sending the next three balls for six to complete an outstanding pursuit on 177-5 with six balls to spare.

Rizwan rockets to runs record

Babar – this stadium's leading T20I run scorer – already had four fifties at this tournament, a joint-record at a single T20 World Cup, and he looked on course for a new benchmark until Zampa intervened at the end of the 10th over.

Rather than slow Pakistan, though, that wicket set the stage for an innings-defining second-wicket stand from Rizwan and Zaman, who combined for 72 off 46, including 21 in the 17th over alone.

Zaman's big hitting caught the eye, but Rizwan's four sixes helped take him to 1,000 T20I runs in 2021. He is the first player to reach four figures in a single calendar year.

Hapless Hasan lets Wade win it

Shadab was a rare positive with the ball for Pakistan, becoming only the second bowler to take four wickets in a T20 World Cup semi or final after Ajantha Mendis' 4-12 in the 2012 decider. His bowling economy of 6.50 was far and away his side's best effort.

Even his other misfiring team-mates paled next to Hasan, who must have thought his evening could get no worse after giving up 11 runs an over after using his full quota.

But Hasan's attempts to make amends saw him make up good ground to get under a ball from Wade, only to run too far, let the chance slip through his hands and watch on in despair as the batsman took the tournament away from a previously unbeaten Pakistan side.

Australia's chief selector George Bailey has confirmed Marcus Harris will open in the first Ashes Test against England at the Gabba.

Harris only averages 23.77 from 19 Test innings, with the second of his two half-centuries coming against India in January 2019 after scoring his first in the same series.

The 29-year-old staked a strong claim by making a 19th first-class hundred for Victoria against New South Wales in the Sheffield Shield last month.

Bailey says Harris deserves his chance to open along with David Warner in the opening Test against England in Brisbane, which starts on December 8.

"It gives you great confidence as a selector when you know your opening batters are locked away as far as a Test series go," Bailey told RSN radio.

"It's a hard spot to bat and to get those places settle, it's really important. Harry's only had a limited opportunity in the past, and he's been in and out a bit, so we'd love nothing more than for him to hopefully to get an opportunity to get an extended run at it.

"What we have liked is his consistency. He's obviously been a prolific run-scorer at domestic level here, but also love the fact he went overseas and had a great year for Leicester as well."

Will Pucovski would have been a rival for Harris at the top of the order, but suffered another concussion setback.

Marcus Smith starts at fly-half and Owen Farrell returns at inside centre, while Manu Tuilagi moves to the wing when England face Australia on Saturday.

Smith came off the bench in the 69-3 thrashing of Tonga last weekend but will make his third Test start in place of George Furbank against the Wallabies at Twickenham.

Captain Farrell comes back into the team after missing the drubbing of the Pacific island nation due to his positive coronavirus test.

Tuilagi shifts from midfield to the right wing, with Jonny May on the other flank, and Maro Itoje will make his 50th appearance for his country in an unchanged pack.

Bevan Rodd and Raffi Quirke could make their debuts off the bench, but Joe Marler will not feature after the prop tested positive for COVID-19.

England head coach Eddie Jones said: "We know this will be a tough test for us, we're playing against a team who have been together a while and who have beat the world champions twice. As an Australian, I know how much this game means.

"We've had a really good week of preparation, we're looking to improve our performance this week and I think this side is building well."

England: Freddie Steward, Manu Tuilagi, Henry Slade, Owen Farrell (captain), Jonny May, Marcus Smith, Ben Youngs; Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Jonny Hill, Courtney Lawes, Sam Underhill, Tom Curry.

Replacements: Jamie Blamire, Bevan Rodd, Will Stuart, Charlie Ewels, Alex Dombrandt, Sam Simmonds, Raffi Quirke, Max Malins.

Saudi Arabia remain top of World Cup qualifying Group B after they held second-placed Australia to a goalless draw in a feisty contest at the Western Sydney Stadium.

Playing their first home game since October 2019 and backed by an expectant crowd in driving rain on Thursday, the Socceroos were devoid of quality in the final third as they had to settle for a point.

Herve Renard's men lost their 100 per cent record, but remain three points clear of Australia and on course to secure their place in the World Cup in Qatar next year.

The Socceroos - missing Tom Rogic, Aaron Mooy and Adam Taggart - made a strong start but lacked a cutting edge as Ajdin Hrustic was off target before Awer Mabil fired wide.

Graham Arnold's side continued to dictate the play after the break, with Mathew Leckie forcing a save from Mohammed Al Yami and Jackson Irvine side-footing wastefully wide from close range.

Al Yami denied Martin Boyle with his feet after making a hard work of keeping out a tame Mabil free-kick, while Mat Ryan thwarted Salman Al-Faraj and Salem Al Dawsari at the other end.

Australia defender Harry Souttar was carried off with a serious looking injury before Saleh Al-Shehri nodded just wide and Salem Al-Dawsari had a long-range drive saved by Ryan as Saudi Arabia finished strongly 

Al-Dawsari called Ryan into action again with a long-range drive, but neither side could conjure up a winner on a miserable evening in Parramatta.

Pakistan have taken on all comers in the T20 World Cup and will look to end Australia's hopes of winning a maiden title at the semi-final stage on Thursday.

Babar Azam's side made a statement when they hammered fierce rivals India by 10 wickets in their opening match of the tournament and they have never looked back, winning all five Super 12 games.

Australia qualified as runners-up to England in Group 1 as they strive to win the T20 World Cup for the first time and have come out on top in their previous two T20Is against Pakistan.

Pakistan had won five in a row versus Australia in the shortest format prior to those two losses.

Matthew Hayden stated that he believes being a "warrior of Australian cricket over two decades" can give Pakistan an edge in his role as batting consultant for this tournament.

Pakistan's only T20 World Cup title was won back in 2009 and they were beaten by Australia in a semi-final the following year.

Stats Perform usese Opta data to preview the second semi-final at Dubai International Stadium on Thursday, with the winner facing England or New Zealand at the same venue three days later.

Brilliant Babar leading by example

Pakistan's classy run machine Babar has been outstanding with the bat and his captaincy in this tournament.

The prolific skipper has made four scores of least 50 in this tournament, only the third player to do so in a T20 World Cup. Australia great Hayden (four in 2007) and India captain Virat Kohli (four in 2014) are the other two.

Babar is the leading run-scorer in the competition with 264 from five innings at an average of 66 and a strike rate of 128.15.

Paceman Shaheen Afridi has been magnificent with the ball, forcing a false shot from a batter with 44 per cent of his 120 deliveries – the highest rate of any player at the Super 12 stage to bowl more than a single innings.

Haris Rauf has also made a big impact and is Pakistan's leading wicket-taker with eight to Afridi's six for the only team with a 100 per cent record in the Super 12s.

 

Zampa providing Australia x-factor

Spinner Adam Zampa has been one of Australia's leading lights on their run to the last four.

The tweaker has claimed 11 wickets at an average of just 9.90, with only Sri Lanka's Wanindu Hasaranga (16) having taken more scalps. His figures of 5-19 against Bangladesh are the best in the tournament.

Zampa has finished four of his five innings in the tournament with a bowling economy below six runs per over after having done so only once in his 17 innings prior. 

Paceman Josh Hazlewood has also maintained his outstanding form on the back of an Indian Premier League triumph with Chennai Super Kings.

Hazlewood has taken eight wickets with a strike rate of 11.87, delivering with the new ball time and again, and Australia will be looking for him to make early inroads along with Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc.

 

Aaron Finch believes his Australia team are proving their critics wrong as they prepare to do battle for a place in the T20 World Cup final.

Australia headed into the World Cup in poor form in the shortest format, having recorded five successive series defeats, leaving captain Finch and head coach Justin Langer under pressure.

An eight-wicket thrashing at the hands of England in their third game of the Super 12 stage left them on the brink of an exit, but wins over Bangladesh and West Indies proved enough to seal their place in the last four.

Pakistan, the only unbeaten team remaining at the World Cup, stand between Australia and a showdown against either England or New Zealand in Sunday's final.

Finch accepts many commentators may have written Australia off before the tournament started, but he insists the team only had one goal in mind when they arrived in the United Arab Emirates.

"It's just one of those things that in the lead-up to the tournament you tend to hear things or see the odd quote or comment that people have written you off," Finch told reporters.

"It's interesting how the narrative can change really quick. About 10 days ago, our team was too old, and now, we're an experienced team.

"That's just how it all gets portrayed. From day one, I've had a lot of confidence in the way that we've gone about this with the squad that we've got. I don't think that we've exceeded our expectations whatsoever. We came here with a really clear plan to win this tournament, and we're still alive to do that."

 

With Australia hosting the 2022 T20 World Cup, Finch is hopeful their efforts in recent weeks have set them in good stead for the future, even if their attempts to clinch silverware this time around fall short.

"One thing I'm really proud of is how we've started to uncover a little bit more depth in T20 cricket in Australia," he said.

"Some guys who mightn't have got an opportunity in the past if everyone was available, they got a good opportunity to test themselves in international cricket.I think in the long run, over the next two or three years, this period of Australian cricket will help us uncover more talent and more depth, especially in the white-ball format.

"That's something I'm really proud of. Although the results previous to this World Cup hadn't gone our way a huge amount, there was so much learning that we got out of that."

Australia have won their past two T20Is against Pakistan, having lost their prior five encounters in the format, and have won three of their past five meetings at the T20 World Cup.

However, Pakistan have won their past six T20Is – the last time they won more in succession in the format was a nine-game streak from July 2018 to November 2018, which included five straight wins against Australia.

Matthew Hayden says the fact he was a "warrior for Australian cricket over two decades" can help Pakistan reach the T20 World Cup final.

Legendary former Australia opening batsman Hayden was appointed as Pakistan's batting consultant for the tournament in the United Arab Emirates.

The 50-year-old has been trying to plot Australia's downfall ahead of a semi-final showdown at Dubai International Stadium on Thursday and thinks his insights can be key for Pakistan.

He said: "It is a very unusual feeling. I was a warrior for Australian cricket over two decades, so that does give me the benefit of having wonderful insights, not only into these players but also into the culture of cricket in Australia.

"From my point of view there is the challenge of the heart, the challenge of the mind in terms of what's going to happen over the next 24 hours, but I'll also say very proudly that it’s been wonderful to be a part of Pakistan cricket."

Hayden says it will not be a case of him pitting his wits against Australia head coach Langer - who he had such a successful opening partnership with.

"Justin Langer and myself are in similar positions, insofar as a national coach or a batting coach never wins a game of cricket," said Hayden.

"The 11 that take part in the game win the game, and we are back-up only."

Pakistan have won six consecutive T20Is, their longest winning run in the shortest format since a nine-game streak in 2018, which included five straight wins against Australia

However, Australia have come out on top in the previous two T20Is between the nations.

England will be without Joe Marler when they face Australia at Twickenham on Saturday after the prop tested positive for coronavirus.

Marler returned a positive lateral flow test on Monday and immediately went into isolation.

The 31-year-old will isolate for 10 days after a PCR test confirmed he has contracted COVID-19.

All of the other England players and staff returned negative lateral flow tests, with additional PCR test results not yet received.

Owen Farrell rejoined the squad on Monday after he missed the 69-3 hammering of Tonga on Saturday, having tested positive for coronavirus last week.

Marler came off the bench in that thrashing at Twickenham, but will play no part against the Wallabies.

He will hope to be available to return when Eddie Jones' side take on world champions South Africa on November 20.

Australia will tour Pakistan for the first time in 24 years, it was announced on Monday.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) confirmed details of a month-long tour in March and April 2022 comprising three Test matches, three ODIs and one T20I.

The Tests will be held in Karachi, Rawalpindi and Lahore in March, with the latter also hosting the white-ball matches.

While the Tests will form part of the ICC World Test Championship, the one-day matches will be linked to the ICC Cricket World Cup Super League, a 13-team event from which seven qualifiers and host nation India will progress to the final tournament in 2023.

Speaking of Australia's first visit since 1998, PCB chairman Ramiz Raja said: "I am delighted to welcome Australia to Pakistan. From a personal point of view, it pleases me no end that we'll be engaged in a three-Test match series, connoisseurs delight.

"Australia are one of the high-performing sides and them playing in our backyard for the first time after a gap of 24 years will be a special treat for the fans.

"Likewise, it will be a great opportunity for the Australia cricketers to not only play at our iconic venues but also feel and enjoy the respect, love and hospitality that this great country offers, something which most of their previous generation of cricketers missed out by playing offshore."

Cricket Australia chief executive Nick Hockley: "Cricket Australia is excited about the prospect of touring Pakistan next year for what will be a highly anticipated series in a country so incredibly passionate about the game and their national team.

"Pakistan is a formidable opposition with an exceptionally talented team, as evidenced by their dynamic performances in the current ICC Men's T20 World Cup in the UAE.

"We thank the PCB for their considerable efforts in planning for the tour and look forward to continuing to work closely over the coming months to finalise the necessary operations, logistics, security and Covid-19 protocols.

"The safety and welfare of our players and staff remains our number one priority, and we will continue to work with the PCB and relevant agencies to ensure that appropriate and sufficient arrangements are put in place for the tour."

Australia won the series 1-0 in their previous tour of Pakistan, which was their first since Richie Benaud's side won 2-0 in 1959-60.

The previous four series between the countries have been held offshore, most recently in 2018-19, when Pakistan won 1-0 in the United Arab Emirates.

Rory Burns says Ben Stokes' return to the England Test squad in time for the Ashes tour of Australia has provided "a massive boost".

Stokes was initially omitted from the squad for the away series as he recovered from a second operation on a broken finger and took a break from cricket to protect his mental wellbeing.

But the all-rounder gave Joe Root's side a huge lift last week by declaring he was ready to make his comeback, and he flew out to Australia on Thursday.

He will be available, barring any fitness issues, for the first Test at The Gabba on December 8.

 

Stokes was a star of the previous Ashes series in 2019, albeit his heroics in a famous Headingley Test did not prove enough for England to reclaim the urn.

And Burns explained the confidence boost Stokes' timely return has provided.

"It's obviously a massive boost, you know. To get Stokesy back in the side and back in the squad and back around things is obviously a massive boost for us," the opener told reporters.

"We all know what a good player he is. I don't really have to tell you about that. To get a bloke of his calibre and background back in our group is obviously a massive lift for us."

Stokes' return may have come as a surprise to some, but not Burns, who said: "I wasn't actually that surprised. I kind of felt like something was bubbling away.

"So, it was nice when I saw it announced. Because it is exciting and we want to get out there and have the best side possible, and obviously Ben adds to that in a massive way."

Burns impressed in the 2019 series, scoring 133 in the first innings of his Ashes debut before going on to record two more half-centuries (53 and 81).

"I think, from a personal standpoint, I played quite nicely in my only Ashes series to date," Burns continued.

"That was in my home conditions and those sort of things; we are probably going to get some different conditions out here in Australia. There is confidence there but also, at the same time, it's just taking what's in front of you every step of the way."

Scotland held off Australia to claim a narrow 15-13 win in their first November Test at Murrayfield, ending the Wallabies' five-match winning run.

Sunday's hosts had beaten Australia in the sides' previous two meetings, but Dave Rennie's men came into the clash in their best spell of form since a sequence of seven straight victories across September and October 2015.

Finn Russell's penalty 12 minutes from time ultimately proved the difference, prompting Hamish Watson to tell Amazon Prime: "Something special is building here."

Watson had opened the scoring in a tense back-and-forth encounter, powering over in the 22nd minute following a lineout.

Michael Hooper thought he had replied before the break, but the TMO intervened to rule out his try – Allan Alaalatoa sent to the sin bin for catching Matt Fagerson in the face – and James O'Connor's penalty instead provided Australia's only first-half points.

The Wallabies' 14 men had their first lead early in the second half through Rob Leota's score, only for debutant Ewan Ashman to squeeze the ball down in the corner for Scotland.

Another O'Connor penalty put Australia back in front heading into the closing stages, but the game was decided from Scotland's tee and the boot of Russell.

England captain Owen Farrell has been cleared to return to the squad after his coronavirus test was revealed to be a false positive.

The 30-year-old went into isolation and missed England's 69-3 over Tonga on Saturday after a PCR test taken on Thursday came back positive.

However, England revealed on Sunday that the result has been reviewed and determined as a false positive test.

He tested negative in subsequent PCR tests and has therefore been given the green light to link up with his team-mates at Pennyhill Park.

Farrell will be in contention to return to action for Eddie Jones' side when they take on Australia at Twickenham next Saturday.

Australia took a huge step towards the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup as they thrashed the West Indies by eight wickets to deny Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo victorious farewells.

Seeking to win the tournament for the first time, Australia made sure South Africa will need a truly remarkable victory over England later on Saturday to deny them a place in the last four.

Josh Hazlewood produced a stunning performance with the ball for Australia, taking 4-39, including the wicket of Bravo on his final appearance for the Windies, who only managed to get to 157-7 because of a late salvo from Andre Russell.

Hazlewood's efforts with the ball were backed up brilliantly by a superb batting display from David Warner, whose unbeaten 89 off 56 ensured victory was rarely in doubt, Australia getting home with 22 balls to spare.

Already eliminated from contention with only one win to their name, the Windies saw a strong start dissipate as Gayle (15) departed the crease in what is expected to be his final game for the Windies.

Gayle chopped onto his stumps the next delivery after smashing Pat Cummins for six and saluted the crowd as he strode off. Nicholas Pooran followed in short order at the hands of Hazelwood, who then castled Roston Chase for a duck and the Windies failed to wrestle back the initiative after falling to 35-3.

Australia skipper Aaron Finch did fall cheaply for nine in reply, though that was as good as it got for the Windies as they were bludgeoned by Warner and Mitchell Marsh.

They put together a seemingly effortless partnership of 124, combining for 13 fours and six maximums before it was finally ended by Gayle, much to the delight of the Windies, as he removed Marsh with the scores level, before Warner clinched victory with a boundary to finish things off with a flourish.

Australia all but through

Australia sit second in Group 1 with eight points and a clear net run-rate advantage over third-placed South Africa, who will need to thump unbeaten England in Sharjah to progress to the semis ahead of Australia.

Gayle & Bravo all smiles

Though the result was not they wanted, Gayle and Bravo made sure to soak up the experience of their final match. They were all smiles throughout and received a guard of honour from the Australia players after the game.

Gayle is the Windies' top run-scorer in T20I cricket with 1,899. Known for his devastating batting in the shortest format, his dismissal of Marsh as he and Bravo bowled two of the final three overs marked an unconventional farewell.

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