The day has come. We will have this day, this one day, and then… just the memories. Except, of course, we might have another too, if the weather gods find it as hard as you and I undoubtedly will to let go of this tournament. We began nearly a month ago, in Geelong, with Namibia beating Sri Lanka. The first of a series of results that upset our calculations, that made us all re-examine our certainties about the T20 format, that told us, quite simply, that there are no certainties. Except perhaps one. That in the end, it will be as qudrat ka nizam decrees.
We began in Geelong, and we’re now some 75km away in Melbourne. We’re at the ‘G, where Pakistan and England will meet, 30 years after they met at the same venue in a match whose echoes remain with us. England vs Pakistan. Deep, powerful batting against varied, irresistible bowling. We can’t have asked for better. Let’s just hope the rain stays away.
Rahul Shrestha: “If Pakistan are able to cut off the opening partnership between Alex and Buttler, Pakistan is surely going to win. Or else, God save Pakistan.”
Wajid Jawaid : “This has been a memorable World Cup because every team that took part in it was flawed. This ensured that there were no dull matches. The two flawed teams that found ways around their flaws and peaked at the right time are in the final today. It’s unfortunate that one team has to lose, but both teams should be proud of themselves after the match today.”
Thanks, Andrew M. The MCG is absolutely pulsing with energy right now. Cannot wait. And we don’t have long to wait at all. Here come Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan. A definite smattering of grass on the pitch as Ben Stokes walks to the top of his mark. Rizwan on strike, with one slip in place. Deep backward point in place.
KarthikVJN: “So except ‘TOSS’ everything looks like a 92’World cup reprise.” Pakistan did bat first, though…
6.53pm Out come the players, through a sea of fireworks with mascots in tow, to line up for the national anthems. Time to hand back to Karthik K for the first ten overs of the World Cup final!
If you’re in the US, you can watch this game live on ESPN+.
6.45pm There’s a raucous gig taking place out in the middle of the ‘G at the moment – Icehouse, apparently, and “Great Southern Land” specifically. The atmosphere is building very nicely with just about 15 minutes to go until the start.
Nodda Wezzerman: “8km north of MCG, with views of the approaching weather, it looks clear for now. Huge amounts of rain in the rest of the state- Melb is one of the few dry places. For now.” It’s qudrat ka nizam, innit…
Reshi: “Today I visited my old home where I watched 1992 final, will watch match in the same room, to imitate 1992 history is repeating at its peak ….” Personally I’m sitting on the sofa at a less-than-godly hour of a Sunday morning in the UK… so I concur, we are firmly on track!
6.30pm Don’t forget, the boy wonder Roller is manning the Live Report for your delectation.
Another former boy wonder (now an old lag) Andrew McGlashan is among our dream team at Melbourne. “Couple of Netherlands shirts spotted in the crowd,” he says. “Wonder if they were given comp tickets by the Pakistan team?” It’s the least they could do, after the Dutch pulled off a stunning win over South Africa to make this run to the final possible.
Mohyuddin: “England have won the important toss, this pakistan team loves to chase even under normal circumstances. And today there is extra pressure of rain. Fingers crossed.”
Alistair: “As a Leeds United fan, I know a choice between beating our rivals, Manchester United and being relegated, versus losing to them and staying up would be a hard choice. Be interested to know how Pakistan fans would feel, would a victory against India have been bigger than winning the tournament?” I suspect it’s a question a fair few India fans have been asking themselves in recent days. Mind you, that match … that finish! Those are the moments that stay with you forever.
6.26pm So, that’s the stage set. England have won a handy toss in the circumstances, who knows what adjustments we will face if the weather closes in, but definitely handy to know what’s required of you when DLS gets stuck in.
Babar Azam referenced 1992 at the toss… here’s one I wrote earlier, some 28 years after the event. Will history repeat itself? So far the order of play is panning out the same, although Pakistan themselves chose to bat first back then… (oh, and spoiler alert, here’s how that one eventually panned out…)
Zahid: “1992 Pakistan batting first. 1992 I took breakfast early morning. History repeated.” It’s a sign!
Pakistan: 1 Babar Azam (capt), 2 Mohammad Rizwan (wk), 3 Mohammad Haris, 4 Shan Masood, 5 Iftikhar Ahmed, 6 Mohammad Nawaz, 7 Shadab Khan, 8 Mohammad Wasim, 9 Naseem Shah, 10 Haris Rauf, 11 Shaheen Shah Afridi.
England: 1 Jos Buttler (capt & wk), 2 Alex Hales, 3 Phil Salt, 4 Ben Stokes, 5 Harry Brook, 6 Liam Livingstone, 7 Moeen Ali, 8 Sam Curran, 9 Chris Woakes, 10 Chris Jordan, 11 Adil Rashid.
England win the toss and bowl
“Huge game, good nerves, good energy around the team and in the stadium,” says Jos Buttler. “Both teams in red-hot form, looks a good wicket, a bit of weather around which is why we bowled first.”
Unchanged team for England, so no Wood, no Willey, no Malan. Jordan and Salt play.
Babar would have bowled first, “we’ll try to put runs on the board and put pressure on. The way the team is playing is outstanding. History repeats [from 1992]… we’ll do our best.”
Pakistan are unchanged too… here we go!
6.21pm Morning/evening all. And what a morning/evening. The threatened rains appear (touch wood) to be passing us by for now. Here’s the toss…
6.15pm We’re hearing that Mark Wood has measured out his run-up. Monga, meanwhile, reckons David Willey might also get a game.
On that note, the toss is imminent, so let’s have a change in commentary. Here’s Andrew Miller.
Jared: “I live about 3.5km from the MCG. The forecast all week has been for thunderstorms, but woke up this morning to beautiful blue skies. It’s been darkening off since before lunch, but no rain so far and the forecast rain has been pushing later and later into the night. This morning I thought we wouldn’t get any play, now I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a full match”
6.05pm This is the final of Qudrat ka Nizam, but it’s also a final that’ll pit two thoroughly professional and thoroughly prepared T20 teams against each other. Sidharth Monga ponders this confounding mix of the rational and irrational.
JOYDEEPSINGHGIL: “Interesting fact in this tournament KL Rahul had run out Litton by direct hit and India won that match, Maxwell had run out Gulbadin Naib by direct hit and Australia won that matc, Shadab had run out Conway by direct hit to win Pakistan that semifinal match. Point is these two teams should beware run outs!”
Dr Mohib: “Since the start of the tournament, I’ve not seen people praising Babar’s captaincy, the way he maneuvered his troops in each and every match. I think apart from India’s match where they didn’t play the extra seamer, all other moves were spot on. Well done Babar.”
Wani: “The major difference between the Pakistan team that just lost to India and the one playing today is Haris and Wasim replacing Haider and Asif and Shaheen returning to almost his best form.”
5.55pm England will wear black armbands today in tribute to David English, the larger-than-life character whose annual schools festival gave many of the players their first taste of the big time, and who died last night aged 76.
A bit of pitch and weather intel from Gnasher, meanwhile: “The pitch is getting a final roll. Suggestion there is some grass on it, but two days ago Matthew Hayden said he did not expect as much help as the India-Pakistan game. However, overhead conditions could play a part. The sky is slate-grey now, but it’s still dry.”
Noor: “@Adnan, no I have to disagree on that. The bowling approach was the same but the batting wasn’t. Including Haris after that defeat vs Zimbabwe changed it all. ”
Misbah: “I have read many excellent articles in the lead up to this Final from Cricinfo. But no one has clearly stated as yet what the team winning the toss should do? Just because it might rain, should they opt to field or believe in runs on the board in knockout and bat first? Thoughts? ” — Well, we’ve only had three games at the MCG so far at this World Cup, and the team batting first has won two of them. Can’t read too much into that. I would think the team winning the toss will bowl, which seems to be the likeliest choice given the weather that’s around.
5.50pm Two views of Melbourne.
Adnan: “Isn’t it funny that how quickly our viewpoint changes. Not long ago after Zim n ind defeats, there were tons of analysis coming out (even from ESPNcricinfo experts) about how old and outdated is Pak approach towards T20s. Their approach is still the same and it’s just their bowling which keeps them in the hunt but for how long is the question. They need one more day out of this bowling unit to take Pak over the line. Otherwise, their fate will be no different to that of India.” — Perfectly put, Adnan. I think we all read too much into small sets of results in T20.
Khan: “Well it’s Pakistan’s turn to win isn’t it? If we follow the pattern between these two in T20Is this year. Eng win, Pak win, Eng win, 2 wins to Pak, 2 wins to England. So the 8th one has to be Pakistan.”
Ashar: “I have a feeling it will be Nawaz’s day today. He has had a rollercoaster of a worldcup but mostly ending on the wrong side. The cricketing god is a great equalizer !!”
Shahid: “This reminds us why we love this game so much. We have two different philosophies of cricket clashing today at MCG. After decades, we still cant say for certain which wins you tournaments: bowling or batting. As if this was not enough we brought in a 3rd flavour of “Qudrat ka nizam” in the mix.”
RAJITH: “long batting lineups always a luxury for any team and england is truly blessed in this case”
Where is my Name: “For all those vouching for English batters, take a look back to Champions Trophy 2017. That was an even more dangerous side than this one but Pakistan bowlers were outstanding, and fun fact, did not let the “red hot” Ben Stokes hit a single boundary even after consuming 64 deliveries. The same is going to happen today.”
5.40pm Where will this game be won and lost, tactically? Matt Roller trains his magnifying glass on all the factors that could influence this final, and all the key match-ups.
Afeef: “Liam Livingstone scored a brilliant century against Pakistan last year in a T20I. He also hit a 122 metre six against Haris Rauf one match after that. And even in the warm-up match against Pakistan in this tournament, he hit Shadab Khan for a six that landed on the roof of the Gabba. Safe to say Livingstone will be the key batter today, especially if the openers get out early. ”
Raj: “Today MCG will have more fans for fake Mr. Bean than real Mr. Bean…”
Meera: “This tournament has proved Australian pitches are the perfect neutral venue for T20Is compared to UAE.”
Mustafa Moudi: “Fun Fact: This is a clash between the current Champions Trophy winner and current World Cup winner. Interestingly, Pakistan won the CT by beating India in the final while England won the World Cup by (not really) defeating New Zealand in the final. Both these sides swapped their opponents in the SF and yet again won against them to enter this final !!”
5.30pm Still an hour to go before the toss: the perfect time to catch up with all the essential reading ahead of the final. Let’s start with profiles of two of Pakistan’s key players: Danyal Rasool on Shaheen Shah Afridi, and Osman Samiuddin on Shadab Khan.
And Andrew McGlashan asks: Is this the start of the Jos Buttler era?
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Talha Akhter: “It’s 10:26 in Dubai. And I have the same feeling today I had in 2009 waking up. The feeling was “we have nothing to loose””
Nauman Dosani: “I think Shadab rightly said Pakistan have not played bad cricket even against India. They lost both matches on the last ball of the game! Bowling and Babar are the keys to win!”
Irfan UlHaq: “There will be magic from Shaheen Shah Afridi to take 2 wickets in 2 balls and revise the history of Wasim Akram in 92 World Cup.” — Shaheen has addressed the Akram comparison himself, in this video.
JOYDEEPSINGHGIL: “What a tournament for Sam Curran this one he has taken 10 wickets outta 5 matches at avg of 13.60 means after conceded 13 runs he takes wicket and at 11.2 sr after every 11th ball he takes wicket at economy of just 7.28 with bbi 5 wickets on just 10 runs”
Sid: “I’m looking at the MCG from my balcony after making the trip hoping India would would make it here, it looks like a day for a blockbuster final not a hint of rain so far all day” — YOU HAVE A BALCONY OVERLOOKING THE MCG!?!?!?!?
5.15pm The question you’re all asking, as our first reader feedback trickles in, is “how’s the weather?” The answer to that is reassuring. We’re hearing from our correspondents, Alex Malcolm, Andrew McGlashan and Sidharth Monga, that there’s no rain at the MCG at the moment.
If it does rain, though, we still have ample time to achieve a result either today or tomorrow.
Gnasher sends us this bit of colour from the ‘G: “It’s a three-flag warm-up for Pakistan today. They will have massive support. The fans were outside the ground four hours before the start. Jos Buttler taking some throwdowns from Paul Collingwood. A few of the other England players having a kickabout.”
And that’s a wrap from Adelaide. This was the game that England always had it in them to play, and they brought it out at the perfect time, shrugging off a slow start to the tournament and leaving India wondering what hit them. They look in the perfect shape for the final at the MCG, but they’ll have to contend with a red-hot Pakistan, qudrat ka nizam, and all that. We hope you’ve enjoyed our coverage. Until next time, it’s goodbye from me, Andrew, Raghav and Thilak.
Jos Buttler: “[The Ireland game] feels a long time ago. The character we’ve shown to get through the tournament since then, and put in our best performance today, has been amazing. We came here excited, it was a really good feeling when we came in. A group effort from 1 to 11. We always want to start as fast as we can and aggressive. Adil Rashid was down at No. 11 today, and that gives us the freedom to come out aggressive, that depth. Hales was tough to bowl at today, he used the dimensions of the ground, and we complement each other perfectly. He was a brilliant partner today. Special praise to Chris Jordan for coming in today, not having played so far, and he ran into Hardik playing fantastically at the death, but I thought he handed that really well.”
Rohit Sharma: “It’s pretty disappointing how we turned up today. I thought we still batted pretty well at the back end to get to that score, but we were not good enough with the ball. It was definitely not a wicket where a team can come and chase it down in 16 overs. With the ball we didn’t turn up today. When it comes to knockout stages, it’s all about handling the pressure. Depends on the individual as well. You can’t teach anyone to handle pressure. When these guys play the playoffs in the IPL and all that, those are high-pressure games, and they’re able to handle it. The way we started with the ball was not ideal. We were a little nervy, but you have to give credit to the openers as well. They played really well. When Bhuvi bowled the first over it swung today, but not from the right areas. We wanted to keep it tight, not give room, because square of the wicket was an area we were aware of – that’s where the runs came today. If we keep it tight and the batsman still score runs, we’ll take it. But we didn’t do that today. In the game against Bangladesh it was tricky as well, but I thought we held our nerve that day, executed well.”
9.40pm Visuals of Rohit Sharma in the dugout, looking utterly despondent. He struggled through this tournament: showed a lot of intent at the top of the order, but simply failed to find the fluency to match that intent. Tonight’s innings was a culmination of that. India have come quite a way since last year’s T20 World Cup, but the problem of not being able to force the pace against spin through the powerplay and early middle overs hasn’t gone away at all.
Alex Hales, the Player of the Match: “A huge occasion, really happy with the way I played. I think this is one of the best grounds to bat in in the world. Great value to hit your shots with the short square boundaries, and a ground I have good memories at. I never thought I’d play in a World Cup again, and to get a chance is a special feeling. It’s a country I love playing in. Jos was unbelievable out there.”
9.32pm It’ll be Pakistan vs England at the MCG. Thirty years after Pakistan vs England at the MCG. What an occasion it will be, because it’ll be two utterly in-form teams at peak confidence. If Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan made a triumphant return to form yesterday, Alex Hales and Jos Buttler have gone even better, obliterating India’s attack and showing up a strong opposition’s limitations along the way. A ten-wicket win in a semi-final. With four overs remaining. An absolute hammering. For India, this result has eerie echoes to their semi-final against West Indies at the Wankhede back in 2016. Their batting has evolved significantly since then, and that evolution has been accelerated over the last year or so, but they still have a long way to go to catch up with the very best T20 batting sides.
Elsewhere, in the Pro Kabaddi League week, 5 saw a slew of records: Fazel Atrachali becomes PKL’s most-successful defender while Ajinkya Pawar scored six points in ~that~ raid. Here are this week’s PKL9 highlights in numbers.
RamanJ: “India playing in Group B faced less competition and England in group A faced fierce competition for a spot facing NZ, Aus, SL, and other teams. That’s what let England get this comprehensive win, their struggle. Absolutely brilliant and phenomenal.”
Dan: “Hopefully this loss for India will usher a new beginning like how it happened for England after 2015 WC. They should definitely look beyond the likes of Rahul, Karthik, Bhuvi, Ashwin and even Rohit. Get the likes of Shubman Gill, Prithvi Shaw, Umran Malik in. Time to look at the future”
Mustafa Moudi: “Fun Fact: This KOs is mirror image of last year’s KO. England, NZ and Pakistan along with the current Host made it to the SF in which England and Pakistan lost their SFs. This year, England, NZ and Pakistan along with the last year’s host made it to the SF in which England and Pakistan have won and proceeded to the Finals !!”
Kamy: “This is proper hammering…India should feel the pain and should reflect on their approach in this World Cup…slow in first 10 overs, no wicket taking option in middle overs, no wristspinner.” — I don’t know how much Chahal or any other wristspinner could have done today, to be fair.
Pakistan have qualified for the final from outtta nowhere. Heartbreak for NZ once again. That’s all she wrote for today. Until next time, this is Deivarayan Muthu signing off on the behalf of Alan Gardner, Thilak Ram and Chandan Duorah. Take care and cheers.
Williamson: I thought Pakistan played nicely and then we managed to wrestle back some momentum. At the halfway mark we thought we had a competitive total but disappointing not to make Pakistan work harder [in the chase]. A tough pill for us to swallow, we certainly pride ourselves in a number of areas, strengths of ours, and didn’t quite do that today. Fielding was okay…but I think if we want to be honest, we wanted to be more disciplined with our areas. Like I said, Pakistan deserved to win. Throughout the round-robin stages, we played nicely and today we weren’t at our best. Having said that, we know the fickle nature of T20 cricket.
Babar: The way the team performed in the last three matches…. Thanks to the crowd, feels like we are playing at home. We had a good start in the first six overs and later on we had a good spin attack. The fast bowlers also finished very well. When we crossed the boundary line, me and Babar decided that we can attack the new ball, because we knew that the pitch was tricky, a little bit difficult, and 150  was a good target on this pitch,” Rizwan said. “We decided we’re going to do hard work and attack these guys, and when we finish the powerplay, one of the guys will go deep, because obviously pitch was tricky, and Alhamdulillah, Allah helped us and we succeeded. I think he [Haris] is a young guy and showing his aggression. We will enjoy this moment, but at the same time we will focus on the final.
Masood punches his fist and the celebrations begin in Pakistan’s camp. Babar and Haris are off their seats. Shadab lets out a huge roar. Pakistan’s players now take a lap of honour at the SCG. Dil Dil Pakistan reverberates around the SCG.
Pakistan have made it 1992 again. After losing their first two games of the tournament, against India and Zimbabwe, Pakistan were on the brink of elimination. They are now in the final of the T20 World Cup after knocking NZ out. After the bowlers put in a clinical display on a subcontinental-style SCG track, Rizwan and Babar maximised the powerplay for Pakistan and struck up a century stand that set up their chase beautifully. Beware India/England, Babar is back in form.
What might have been had Babar not been dropped by Conway first ball? In all NZ dropped three catches on the day in a sloppy fielding display. Before Wednesday, NZ had dropped just three catches in the tournament. They had also failed to maximised their powerplay with the bat today and though Mitchell made a fine half-century it was not enough to recover lost ground. Pakistan were simply outstanding with the ball in the last six overs, allowing just 53 runs off those 36 deliveries.
Rizwan, Player of the Match: Obviously, me and Babar decided to go after the new ball and the pitch was difficult. When we finished powerplay, the discussion was one of the guys to go deep. The guys have worked hard and we have always believed.
Matthew Hayden, Pakistan mentor: Fantastic. Tonight was very special and a few things came out for us. Everyone will talk about Babar and Rizwan, but that bowling attack did an unbelievable job. Sky is the limit and both of these guys have done it for Pakistan for a number of years and I also want to mention Haris as well. He faces every fast bowler in the nets and smashes them. On this surface, the bowlers had to adapt and we got Shaheen back up and running. Once it starts to reverse-swing, boy! he’s hard to handle. Haris can bowl 150kph. I’d like to face India, pretty much because of the spectacle. It’s unthinkable.
Bilal Haider: “Reminder: Haris wasn’t part of the squad, he’s only here because Fakhar got injured midway through tournament”
Sarmad: “I can’t believe my eyes, few days ago, we were almost at the bottom of table and now into the Final. Special thanks to The Netherlands ❤️ miracle my friend miracle! ”
Shabaib Naqvi: “MCG.. World Cup Final…. Pakistan 1992 Reloading…..”
Brent: “What the heck Black Caps?Smash Australia and meekly roll over to Pakistan, who are good team and yet only fluked their way in to semi because of a SA choke. ”
Gokul Pradeep V: “Spare a thought for KW. Was under fire for his strike rate, got back to form last game with a strike rate of 174, but failed to up the ante in this crunch game and ended up with a strike rate of 109 !! ”
Ashish: “If not for the dropped catches, NZ would have had the better of pakistan but it was written in the stars for paksitan to reach the finals after their fairytale entry into the semis.”
Akshay : “As an Indian, tomorrow’s match is now so much more exciting. Are we going to have a replay of the 1992 WC final or the 2007 T20 WC final?”