How in the world did Pakistan qualify for the Semi-Finals?

Pakistan Cricket. As Nasser Hussain once described it; “One minute down. The next minute up.” It completely sums up Pakistan’s performances in each match they have played in this 2022 Men’s T20 World Cup. Every ball made people emotional. However, how it was started left everyone baffled and made them believe that they would not even go through the next round.

It is amazing how they overcame the obstacles – and of course, some results that went in their way – to reach the final four. No one gave them a real chance after their shocking loss to Zimbabwe in Perth almost ten days ago. They were second last on the table of Group 2 as they and Netherlands were winless after two games. 

So what happened? How did the next games that followed favour Pakistan?

The loss of Pakistan to India and Zimbabwe

The arch-rivalry between India and Pakistan always brings the best in the world of cricket. And this time on Australian wickets, it was always going to be a treat, which it did. 

Before the match, it was expected that Babar Azam and his Men had more chance of winning. It’s probably because of their last year’s first World Cup win that boosted their confidence. Since then, the Men in Green overcame India one more time out of the two games that followed. 

The result was decided on the last ball of the match. It was a heartbreak for them but they were ready for the Zimbabwe match.

No one would have thought that PAK will lose to Zimbabwe. Again, it went down to the last over. Three needed from two balls but M Nawaz ended up getting out. Three needed to win, two for the tie. Shaheen Afridi only could manage just one. A heartbreak was suffered by the Green Team.

From that point onwards, no one really cared that PAK have a slight chance of qualifying. No one couldn’t care less. The loss to Zimbabwe hurt the fans and everyone alike like a knife cut through their necks. It was an embarrassing defeat. And on top of that, both India and South Africa had tightened their chances after their big wins over the Netherlands and Bangladesh. 

It was a situation where one could make many equations but cannot come to a conclusion unless there were results that MUST go the other way. Who knew that it actually did?

Also Read: Is Babar’s Captaincy the only fault for Pakistan’s losses?

When everything started going Pakistan’s way

October 30. Three matches took place. And from that day onwards, PAK needed results to go their way. Bangladesh stunned Zimbabwe to make it one out of three before Babar Azam and his Men took on the limping Netherlands. Both teams were winless after two matches. Another loss meant elimination. 

But the bowling was too fast to handle for the Dutch. Eventually, the Green Team won. However, it was another poor show from the bat. They managed to chase 92 by the end of the 14th over. The approach was again questioned, with Babar and Mohammad Rizwan once again failing to keep up with an aggressive approach. But nevertheless, it was a win needed.

The third game that day was India needed to beat South Africa. But the style of play from India, which they lost, upset a lot of fans. It went back again to which scenarios were required for qualifying.

Pakistan came against the only unbeaten team in the tournament; South Africa. History holds that the Proteas never defeated the Shaheens. And Babar and his Men made sure it remained that way. Iftikhar Ahmed and Shadab Khan helped them score 185. Rain reduced SA’s match to 14 overs when they were 66-4. Things changed from there as the bowlers restricted them to 108-9. They were back in the hunt. They needed one more push.

The Miracle of “Qudrat ka Nizaam”

Last round of the group. Two possible scenarios. Only one of them was needed while the Green Team needed a win in their final match. 

It was early in the morning. But the Netherlands sprung a massive surprise after they took down South Africa by 13 runs. In the scenario which looked more difficult than Zimbabwe’s victory over India, the Netherlands did PAK a massive favour.

Not only it opened a door for the Men in Green, but South Africa were knocked out. India qualified without even needing a win from Zimbabwe while PAK vs BAN game became a virtual qualifier.

We all know the story from here. PAK qualifies for the semi-finals after a six-wicket victory over the Bangladesh side and becomes the only team to qualify for the T20 World Cup knockouts for the sixth time.

Pakistan will obviously play the first Semi-Final against ever-so-strong New Zealand in the iconic Sydney Cricket Ground. Whether their journey ends there or they have more to play will be seen. But this was one of the greatest comebacks in the tournament by a team that will surely be remembered for a long time.

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