England’s 10-wicket hammering of India in the T20 World Cup semi-final leaves them strong favourites to lift the trophy on Sunday.
But their opponents, Pakistan, have already overcome the odds to make it this far.
The final between these two giants of the game is the culmination of a 45-match competition, with the winners taking home $1.6m and runners-up receiving half that amount.
Neither team has made it easy for themselves. Here is how they got to the Melbourne Cricket Ground:
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- Beat Afghanistan by five wickets
Sam Curran was named Player of the Match after becoming the first bowler for England to take a five-wicket haul in a T20 international. England elected to field in Perth, performing outstandingly to take out Afghanistan with only a target of 112 to reach. At 65 for 3 by the 11th over, England’s batters struggled at the hands of Afghanistan’s spin bowlers. But Liam Livingstone held his nerve to score 29 off 21 to seal the win.
- Lost to Ireland by five runs
The shock defeat of England’s campaign saw Ireland ahead for most of the game, with a downpour ending chances for a comeback. Andrew Balbirnie’s impressive 62 helped the underdogs set a target of 157. But it was Ireland’s powerplay mastery which saw England’s batters collapse, losing seven wickets for just 25 runs. Moeen Ali looked like he might inspire an England comeback, but when the rain fell, Jos Buttler’s men were behind by five runs on the DLS target and Ireland could celebrate a famous victory.
- Match abandoned vs Australia
This was meant to be a great match between the Ashes rivals. The loser would end up ignominiously dropping out of the World Cup. In the end, it was the high-water levels which put paid to any chance of a spectacle, with the game at the MCG abandoned before it even began.
England cricket lovers have had so much pain in this country. savour this. Magical.
— George Dobell (@GeorgeDobell1) November 10, 2022
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- Beat New Zealand by 20 runs
Under pressure, Curran again delivered the goods, with England knowing only a victory over the Kiwis could give them any chance of making the semis. Buttler led by example with a magnificent 73 off 47. With New Zealand chasing 179, Curran took two wickets after Glenn Phillips dominated at the crease, spearheading a 91-run partnership with Kane Williamson. England won and got two useful points.
- Beat Sri Lanka by four wickets
Another nerve-shredder for England, after Sri Lanka’s opener Pathum Nissanka got the Lions off to a cracking start, with 67 runs scored off 45 balls. England’s slower bowling worked to limit Sri Lanka’s runaway advance. Chasing 142, Buttler and Alex Hales started off with a 75-run partnership. But six English wickets fell for 54 runs and an upset loomed. The steady workmanship of Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes, however, meant England reached their target – with just two balls to spare.
This was a rare hammering. Hardik Pandya’s 63 and Virat Kohli’s half-century set a not-unreasonable target of 168 but England seems to have found their form at the perfect moment. Buttler and Hales knocked India around the park and did not need anyone else’s help to get past the target and into the final.
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— England Cricket (@englandcricket) November 10, 2022
- Lost to India by four wickets
It is always a big game when these two get together. And when Virat Kohli is on form, it’s a sight to see. Kohli’s 82 while chasing Pakistan’s 160 saw some big, big hitting – even knocking one shot into the car park of the 100,000-seater MCG, the largest cricket ground in the world. But despite his heroics, India still needed 48 runs from the final three overs. In the closing moments of the game, it was becoming tighter and tighter, with umpires and players disagreeing over no-ball calls. In the end, a comical last-over saw India home.
- Lost to Zimbabwe by one run
This was probably the moment most Pakistanis gave up hope. Another final-ball thriller resulted in a miracle result for Zimbabwe, who only managed to set a target of 130. Pakistan’s efforts at the cease were patchy at best but made slow progress towards what should have been an achievable target. Mohammed Nawaz was dismissed off the penultimate delivery. Shaheen Afridi needed three off the final ball, but could only push it away for a single. Trying his luck with a run back for a second, Afridi’s bails fell at the hands of wicketkeeper Regis Chakabva and Pakistan’s hopes of a last-four appearance all but vanished.
- Beat Netherlands by six wickets
But wait, there is hope again, a lifeline for Captain Babar Azam’s men. With Netherlands batting first, Pakistan’s bowlers took advantage of the Perth conditions to crank out the short balls and keep the men in orange to just 91. An easy chase saw Mohammad Rizwan pick up 49 runs by himself to secure Pakistan’s first T20 international win in Australia.
— Pakistan Cricket (@TheRealPCB) November 12, 2022
- Beat South Africa by 33 runs
If this match had a name, its name would be Shadab Khan, Pakistan’s vice-captain. A magnificent 52 – a half-century from just 20 balls – was followed by taking two South African wickets. Batting first, Pakistan recovered from 95 for five to post their highest World Cup score against South Africa, giving the Proteas a target of 186. With Quinton de Kock and Rilee Rossouw dismissed by Shahid Afridi, and then rain delaying play for an hour, South Africa were never going to make it. And they did not.
- Beat Bangladesh by five wickets
A four-wicket haul for Shahid Afridi saw Pakistan book their place in the semis after the unfancied Netherlands had earlier stunned South Africa. Bangladesh could only set a target of 128 after a golden duck for the Bangladesh captain. After the break, Azam and Rizwan’s opening partnership looked like they might seal the win without assistance, but when both were dismissed in quick succession, there was a brief glimpse of hope for Bangladesh. That hope was short-lived, however, as Pakistan cruised to the win.
- Beat New Zealand by seven wickets
Rizwan and Azam’s partnership was again crucial in victory over the Black Caps, as Pakistan matched England’s timing of a return to form in the semi-final. The third ball of the match saw Afridi taking out Finn Allen. Pakistan’s bowlers then managed New Zealand’s batters like a sheep farmer herding their flock, limiting any chances to build a decent score. Chasing 152, an imperious Pakistan saw Azam and Rizwan put up 105. Mohammed Haris continued the fine work and his 30 runs ensured Pakistan’s place in the final.
— CricWick (@CricWick) November 8, 2022