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Afridi lifts Pakistan into World T20 final

Pakistan defeated South Africa by seven runs in their Twenty20 World Cup semi-final at Trent Bridge on Thursday. The Pakistanis will meet the winners of Friday's semi-final between Sri Lanka and West Indies on Sunday, reports Arjun Sen. See full coverage

cricket Updated: Jun 22, 2009 13:47 IST
Arjun Sen

It was one of those days for Shahid Afridi. A day where everything he tried, worked. He first regained his touch with the bat and then, continued his fine run with ball. It was Afridi's 51 off 34 balls that set up Pakistan's total of 149/4 in the first semifinal of the World T20 and his two wickets in four balls that put the brakes on South Africa's reply.

Pakistan won the game by seven runs to make their second successive World T20 final. South Africa ended their 20 overs on 142/5. However, while Afridi might have played an all-round hand in stopping the South Africans, the age-old theory of the Proteas choking on the big stage seemed to play a role too.

Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis started off in a vein much similar to Kamran Akmal and Shahid Afridi, adding 40 in the six powerplay overs. Pakistan had made 47 in the same period.

Before Mohammad Aamer held a skier off his own bowling to remove Smith, the SA chase was well on track.

However, once Smith fell for 10, the wheels began coming off the innings. Herschelle Gibbs lost his wicket playing for the turn off a straight, fast Afridi delivery, and then the big fish of the line up, AB de Villiers, dragged Afridi on to his stumps. 40/0 had deteriorated to 50/3 in a matter of 16 deliveries, and the South Africans seemed to be choking again.

Younis Khan's ploy of holding back Umar Gul till the 13th over of the innings made the task even tougher for South Africa.

Gul, arguably one of the best death bowlers in the world, bowled three overs for just 19 runs, giving hardly a bad ball away.

There was a 61-run stand between Kallis and JP Duminy off 53 balls, which, albeit briefly, threatened to take the game away from Pakistan, but it wasn't enough. Kallis fell for 64 while attempting the much-needed sixes, while Duminy, now joined by Albie Morkel, continued the chase, though it was all in vain.

Pakistan: Akmal c Morkel b Steyn 23, Hasan c van der Merwe b Parnell 0, Afridi c de Villiers b Duminy 51, Malik c Botha b van der Merwe 34, Younis not out 24, Razzaq not out 12;

Extras: (lb-2, w-3) 5; Total: (for 4 wkts) 149;

FoW: 1-8, 2-28, 3-95, 4-124; Bowling: Steyn 4-0-28-1, Parnell 4-0-26-1, Kallis 2-0-14-0, Morkel 2-0-13-0, Merwe 4-0-29-1, Duminy 2-0-14-1, Botha 2-0-23-0;

South Africa: Kallis c Malik b Ajmal 64, Smith c & b Aamer 10, Gibbs b Afridi 5, de Villiers b Afridi 1, Duminy not out 44, Morkel run out 2, Boucher not out 0;

Extras (b-4, l b-11, w-1) 16;

Total (for 5 wkts) 142; FoW: 1-40, 2-46, 3-50, 4-111, 5-134; Bowling: Razzaq 3-0-19-0, Aamer 4-0-30-1, Afridi 4-0-16-2, Ajmal 4-0-23-1, Malik 1-0-5-0, Gul 3-0-19-0, Alam 1-0-15-0.