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Afridi's Heroic takes Pak to T20 Final

Pakistan 149 for 4 (Afridi 51, Malik 34) beat South Africa 142 for 5 (Kallis 64, Duminy 44*, Afridi 2-16) by seven runs.

NOTTINGHAM:  Shahid Afridi shone with bat and ball as Pakistan dumped South Africa by seven runs to storm into the World Twenty20 final here on Thursday. The maverick batsman smashed 51 from 34 balls and then grabbed 2-16 with his leg-spin as Pakistan successfully defended 149-4 to restrict the favoured Proteas to 142-5 before a sell-out crowd at Trent Bridge.

Pakistan, runners-up to India in the inaugural World Twenty20 in South Africa two years ago, await the winners of Friday's semi-final between Sri Lanka and the West Indies in Sunday's final at Lord's.

Afridi plundered eight boundaries, including four in succession off Johan Botha, after Pakistan elected to bat on a wicket that slowed down as the evening progressed.

Veteran Jacques Kallis made a brave attempt to take the South Africans home, striking seven fours and a six in 64 from 54 balls, but the other batsmen faltered against the spot-on attack.

South Africa made a steady start in reply as openers Kallis and Graeme Smith reached 40 by the sixth over.

Smith failed to make use of an early chance when he was dropped by Umar Gul as he skied a return catch to Mohammad Aamir after making 10.

Afridi, coming on to bowl in the seventh over, struck twice in four deliveries when he bowled Herschelle Gibbs and AB de Villiers to make South Africa 50-3 in 8.3 overs.

Afridi and fellow-spinner Saeed Ajmal, made runs hard to come by, and when the dangerous Gul came on to bowl in the 14th over, South Africa needed a further 77 from 42 balls.

Kallis and JP Duminy raised South Africa's hopes by adding 61 from 53 balls for the fourth wicket, but Ajmal broke the threatening stand by having Kallis caught in the deep in the 18th over.

Duminy remained unbeaten on 44 from 39 balls but the task of needing 23 runs in the last over bowled by Aamir proved too much for him and Mark Boucher.

It did not matter at the end that Pakistan, who were 120-3 after 15 overs, failed to build on the early advantage and managed just 29 runs in the final five overs.

Pakistan had made a frenetic start, racing to 28 off the first 15 deliveries but at the cost of two wickets.

After Kamran Akmal had taken eight runs in Dale Steyn's first over, Shahzaib Hasan fell in the second over for zero when he miscued a big hit off left-arm seamer Wayne Parnell.

Akmal struck a six in Steyn's second over, but fell off the next delivery as he top-edged a pull to Morkel at mid-on. Akmal made 23 from 12 balls with four boundaries and a six.

Afridi, promoted to number three, swung Kallis for two fours in one over as Pakistan reached 47-2 by the time the field restrictions ended after the sixth.

Afridi brought up his half-century off 33 deliveries after slamming off-spinner Botha for four consecutive boundaries in the 11th over that realised 18 runs.

A desperate Smith turned to slow bowler Duminy in the 13th over and struck gold first ball as Afridi holed out to mid-wicket.

 At Presentation Ceremony:

Smith: We came across a very good Pakistan side. Particularly, Shahid Afridi. We were beaten on the day. Not good enough. Afridi played a great knock, we fought back. We had a solid start but couldn't finish. We were beaten by Pakistan. We had Albie padded up from the 11th over but if we don't lose wicket, he can't come back." About handling pressure and chokers tag:" I don't think it was anything to do with that. Pakistan bowled well and defended the total. We are sad and dissappointed. I know lots of people back home will be too. We just got to keep learning and going on. Good luck to Pakistan whoever they meet. They are a quality team on their day."

Younis: We have lots of supporters in England, particularly Nottingham and Birmingham. Every body knows we are slow starters, we were underdogs and it was good. suddenly, we moved to a good position. Afridi is a match winner. That's why he batted at no 3. He is a very committed cricket and it's also about team work. We were short of 15 or 20 runs but they bowled well in the end and we couldn't get boundaries. Our bowling was very good. If we keep doing it, [batt and bowl well] we will win the World Cup.

Man of the Match is Shahid Afridi Huge roar. "I am very very happy to see my team in the final. The captain and the coach gave me confidence. I enjoyed batting, bowling and fielding. It was our last chance. This is the semi-final. I was just trying to keep wicket to wicket, there was some turn and bounce." Nasser asks Afridi, can you win the tournament? "Inshallah"

Mahdavia News Service - Courtesy—AFP

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