Two tense and close semifinals where the tables were turned in the last minute. Two heroes placed in different arches on their travels. For New Zealand, James Neesham was dying to write a song of redemption after the 2019 World Cup final and seized his chance. Your career could well take a leap from here. For Australia, Matthew Wade’s success has been so limited that, by his own admission, he treats every game as his last. That is until he hit Shaheen Shah Afridi, the best fast bowler in the World Cup, for three six in a row to lead Australia to the final. Even Cricket Australia quickly posted an ironic tweet: “Matthew who? Wade!”
“I was a little nervous going into the game and knowing that it could potentially be the last chance to represent Australia,” he told reporters after the game. “This (final) could also be my last match. I am comfortable with that. If so, then it is. I’ll play for as long as they need me and hopefully we can win some games while I’m there. “
Wade, approaching his 34th birthday, tends to be lukewarm in T20I, averaging 20 with a 127 strike rate. Not picked at IPL; his only season was in 2011. Since the last T20 World Cup, Alex Carey, Tim Paine and Peter Handscomb have auditioned for the role of goalie-hitter. In test cricket, his last 50 returned in November 2019. He has been most admired for his toughness. Remember taking body shots from Neil Wagner’s short-range blitz in a test against New Zealand in 2019, but refused to be lured in to play shots? He has a predilection for the Australian tactic of trying to get under the opponent’s skin. He has chosen fights with Virat Kohli (“I could go backstage and cry like you …”), R Ashwin (“just don’t end up with a broken rib”) and Rishabh Pant (“Are you 20 kilos, 25 or 30 kilos overweight? “). He is also a cancer survivor and sports a tattoo of Phillip Hughes, the Australian cricketer who died in 2014 after being hit by a ball, which covers most of his right forearm.
All in all, Wade is a warrior. But his usual form must be part of the reason Pakistan may have had a false sense of confidence that the match was won after all the big names – Aaron Finch, Dave Warner, Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell – returned. the pavilion. “It’s hard to reflect so quickly, to be honest. It hasn’t sunk yet, ”he said. “I’m happy that I had the opportunity to reinvent myself, go back and forth with more confidence and really feel like I belong internationally now.”
In Dubai, it was Marcus Stoinis who started shooting Harris Rauf. Then Wade confronted Hasan Ali. “In the optional sessions, the day before the game, you will find me, Steve Smith and Marcus Stoinis in closed sessions because we don’t have a lot of game practice,” Wade said. “There are only three or four hitters that go to those sessions. I think they have been invaluable for us to be able to get in there, hit a lot of balls and watch us work on our games. “
Once victory became more likely, Wade worked his way to glory against Shaheen Shah Afridi. “I have also played them (laps) since the beginning of my career. But, yeah, it’s certainly something that I needed to get a little more out of when I’m hitting rock bottom, “he said. “It’s easy to have the thin leg up most of the time at the end, but someone spinning opens the whole field for you.”
He certainly did, on Wade’s reckoning night. Afridi’s figures, midway through his last over, were 3.3 – 17 – 1. After Wade’s hat-trick of six, it reads 4-35-1. Wade had done to Afridi what Michael Hussey had done to Saeed Ajmal, a decade earlier in a semi-final of the Australia-Pakistan T20 World Cup in Gros Islet. Pakistan’s long-awaited hero had seen a change of fortune. Australia had found an unexpected new hero. Mateo who? Wade!