Clinical Pakistan join India in last four after SA choke
Shaheen Afridi took four wickets against Bangladesh

Guwahati: The final day of the Super 12s at the ongoing T20 World Cup carried all the ingredients of a Super Sunday blockbuster! Riddled with emotions of pain, shock, excitement and joy, there was no shortage of thrill in each of the games of the triple-header day.

The day started on a sunkissed Adelaide Oval, where the dark clouds of the past came back to haunt South Africa in their shocking 13-run loss to the Netherlands and slam the door to the knockouts in a flash. Having got past Bangladesh, India and Zimbabwe, the Proteas were on course for the knockouts before a clinical Pakistan halted their streak, and brought the equation down to a simple make-or-break Sunday against the Dutch outfit.

But as the sun continued to shine bright in Adelaide, it was just about after dawn back home in South Africa when the fans woke up to a rather lacklustre effort against the Dutch, bringing back nightmares of Sydney (1992), Birmingham (1999), Dhaka (2011) and Auckland (2015).

Unlike the jinxed campaigns at previous World Cups, where on most occasions the South Africans missed a trick or two in team selection, Temba Bavuma can’t afford any of those excuses, as he led a side that boasted of some of the best T20 players in their ranks who buckled under pressure.

At the post-match presser, Bavuma gracefully admitted his side’s other premature World Cup exit, that over the years, has earned them the tag of ‘chokers’. “It (the chokers’ tag) will always be there until we find ourselves in a situation when we get to a final and we come up on the right side of a result,” an emotional Bavuma said.

Temba Bavuma

Stars align for Pakistan

If South Africa almost fulfilled their wishes of a semifinal berth at Adelaide, Pakistan knew they had their task cut out against Bangladesh in the final Super 12 game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The Babar Azam-led side stuck to their plans, to do an encore of the 1992 World Cup. On the brink of losing out a place after three disappointing outings, including a demoralising 1-run loss to Zimbabwe immediately after the 4-wicket defeat to arch-rivals India, Pakistan needs three outright wins from their remaining three outings and a bit of luck from the games between other teams. And as luck would have it, the Proteas’ shocking loss to the Dutch opened the gates for the semis.

But the job was half done till Bangladesh, comfortably placed at 70 for 1 after 10 overs, lost their skipper Shakib Al Hasan and was soon restricted to a meagre 127 for 8, thanks to Shaheen Shah Afridi’s magnificent four-wicket haul and Shadab Khan’s miserly 2 for 30. And during the chase, Babar (32) and Mohammad Rizwan (25) put on their first fifty partnership of this World Cup, before Mohammed Haris (31) and Shan Masood (24 not out) got the job done to ensure their smooth passage to the knockouts.

Pakistan will now take on Group 1 toppers New Zealand in the first semifinal on November 9 in Sydney.

India tame Zimbabwe to top table

As Rohit Sharma and Co walked out at the MCG for the final game of the day, there was a sense of containment in the Indian dressing room as the semi-final line-ups were already decided, rendering the game against Zimbabwe as an inconsequential contest. And Rohit took the liberty by playing Rishabh Pant at the cost of Dinesh Karthik, even though the southpaw failed to impress.

Batting first, KL Rahul struck his second successive fifty before getting out for an identical 51 (the same score he made against Bangladesh in the previous game), before the Zimbabweans triggered a mini-collapse of sorts with four quick wickets in a span of 14 deliveries.

As it all boiled down to the last five overs, Suryakumar Yadav once again displayed his class of being the No.1 ranked T20I batter, with a belligerent 25-ball 61 powered by six fours and four mighty sixes to propel India to a whopping 186 for 5. Virat Kohli (26) and Hardik Pandya (18) were the other notable contributors to the total.

The chase as it appeared was a forgettable one from Zimbabwe’s point of view, losing half their side for 36 runs before Sikandar Raza (34) and Ryan Burl (35) got them to some sort of respectability to finish with 115. All the Indian bowlers in action were among the wickets with off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin (3/22) leading the charge for the clinical victory.

India will now battle England for a place in the final on November 10 at the Adelaide Oval… yes you guessed that right — Virat Kohli’s favourite hunting ground!

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