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Babar, Malik guide Pakistan to massive win over Scotland

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Clinical and flawless Pakistan kept a clean sheet against Scotland as well as in Group-2 of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 by convincingly winning their last league match by 72 runs to set-up 11 November semi-final showdown with Australia in Dubai. Sunday’s victory was Pakistan’s 16th in a row in the UAE, their second home.

No.1 ranked Babar Azam stroked his fourth half-century of the tournament and former captain Shoaib Malik hit Pakistan’s fastest T20 World Cup half-century off 18 balls as the 2009 champions collected 77 runs off the last five overs to finish with 189 for four after electing to bat first.

Scotland struggled to come to terms with one of the most balanced, accurate and attacking bowling line-ups in the tournament all through their innings before finishing at 117 for six after reaching 41 for two at the halfway stage and 81-4 after 15 overs.

Richie Berrington was the highlight of Scotland’s run-chase with an unbeaten 54 off 37 balls with four fours and a six, while Shadab Khan finished as the pick of bowlers with two for 14.

Pakistan’s fourth successive victory against Scotland meant they finished as the only unbeaten side after 41 matches in the tournament. They beat India by 10 wickets, New Zealand and Afghanistan by five wickets each, Namibia by 45 runs before wrapping up with 72 runs victory over Scotland.

By virtue of topping Group-2 with a 100 per cent record, the 2009 champions secured a semi-final against Australia in Dubai on 11 November, while England and New Zealand will contest the first semi-final in Abu Dhabi on 10 November.

Babar slapped five fours and three sixes in a 47-ball 66, his 24th career half-century, but it was Shoaib’s punishing 18-ball 54 not out comprising a four and six sixes that batted Scotland out of the match.

Shoaib was brutal against Chris Greaves in the final over of the innings in which he slapped three sixes and a four to ruin the figures of the wrist spinner who finished with two for 43. In the 19th over, Shoaib struck fast bowler Safyaan Sharif for a couple of sixes as Pakistan scored 17 runs, while the veteran batter’s opening six was against left-arm spinner Mark Watt in the 17th over that yielded 15 runs.

After Pakistan reached 60 for two in 10 overs, the impetus to the innings was provided by Mohammad Hafeez who struck four fours and six in a 19-ball 31. Together with Babar, Hafeez added 53 runs for the third wicket in just over five overs.

Following Hafeez’s departure, Babar and Shoaib added 30 runs for the third wicket from 15 balls.

The 11 November semi-final between Pakistan and Australia will be the seventh time the two sides will go toe to toe in the T20 World Cup.

Pakistan had won the opener in 2007 by six wickets before Australia twice won in the 2010 tournament, winning by 34 runs and three wickets. Pakistan won back to back matches in the 2012 and 2014 events by 32 runs and 16 runs, respectively, while in their last meeting in Mohali in 2016, Australia emerged winners by 21 runs.

Scores in brief

Pakistan 189-4, 20 overs (Babar Azam 66, Shoaib Malik 54 not out, Mohammad Hafeez 31, Mohammad Rizwan 15; Chris Greaves 2-43)

Scotland 117-6, 20 overs (Richie Berrington 54 not out, George Munsey 17, Michael Leask 14; Shadab Khan 2-14, Shaheen Shah Afridi 1-24, Haris Rauf 1-27, Hasan Ali 1-34)

Player of the match – Shoaib Malik (Pakistan)

Next match: 2nd semi-final vs Australia on Thursday, 11 November, Dubai International Cricket Stadium (match starts 7PKT)

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