Australia pulls off astonishing World Cup miracle after huge blunder

Nobody expected Australia to make the World Cup final — especially after its middle order crumbled — but miracles do happen.

Australia has pulled off a miracle run chase to qualify for the final of the T20 World Cup thanks to some heroic hitting at the death.

Matthew Wade thumped three consecutive sixes in the 19th over to drive Australia to a five-wicket win that looked well out of reach when the middle order stuttered in pursuit of Pakistan’s 4/176.

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Marcus Stoinis and Matthew Wade were the heroes, playing astonishing knocks. Stoinis smacked 40 off 31 balls while Wade — who has hardly batted outside the top three ever in white ball cricket — crunched an unbeaten 41 from just 17 deliveries to enhance his status as a finisher.

When David Warner was out caught behind for 49 off 30 — despite not hitting the ball — the Aussies were 4-89 from 10.1 overs after Aaron Finch (golden duck), Mitchell Marsh (28 off 22) and Steve Smith (five off six) had all departed.

Glenn Maxwell couldn’t work his magic, gone for seven, but Stoinis and Wade — who combined to guide Australia home in its first game of the tournament against South Africa — performed another rescue mission.

Stoinis was batting brilliantly and with three overs to go his side needed 37 for victory. He crunched a six and Wade slapped a four to leave them requiring 22 from 12 balls.

Left-arm quick Shaheen Shah Afridi has been one of Pakistan’s standouts this tournament and stepped up to bowl the penultimate over. Wade was gifted a life when Hasan Ali dropped a simple chance at deep mid-wicket — and it cost Pakistan the game.

With four runs already off the first three balls of the over — including two runs courtesy of Ali’s drop — Wade played a ridiculous lap shot over fine leg for six, slapped another maximum over the leg side then got down on one knee again to lap a third ball over the rope and secure an astonishing victory with six balls to spare.

Australia will play New Zealand in the final starting at 1am on Monday morning (AEST).

Before the tournament, plenty of sceptics questioned whether Australia would even get out of the group stage, let alone make the final. Ranked sixth in the world in the T20 format, Justin Langers’ troops had suffered humiliating defeats to the West Indies and Bangladesh in white ball series earlier this year and the signs weren’t great after a first-up win over South Africa when they edged their way to a modest target.

A loss to England was expected but convincing wins over Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and the Windies saw the Aussies progress to the final four — and now they have a chance to claim their first ever T20 World Cup trophy against the Kiwis.

Pakistan started strongly after winning the toss and would have been pleased with its batting effort. Openers Mohammad Rizwan (67 off 52) and Babar Azam (39 off 34) laid a solid foundation before some fireworks from Fakhar Zaman, who nailed 55 not out from just 32 balls with four sixes and three fours.

Josh Hazlewood copped some serious punishment, conceding 49 runs from his four overs while leg-spinner Adam Zampa confirmed his reputation as Australia’s most reliable short-form bowler, taking 1/22 in a miserly spell.

Originally published as Australia pulls off World Cup miracle after huge blunder

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