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T20 WC: Australia into Super Eights; Rizwan, Babar keep Pakistan alive

Australia’s Nathan Ellis celebrates after the dismissal of Namibia’s JJ Smit. (Photo: Getty Images)

By: Vivek Mishra

Australia advanced to the Super Eights of the T20 World Cup with a decisive victory over Namibia, while Rizwan and Babar kept Pakistan’s hopes alive with a crucial win against Canada.

Australia advanced to the Super Eights of the T20 World Cup with a dominant nine-wicket win over Namibia at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua on Tuesday. Adam Zampa led the charge for Australia with figures of 4-12, becoming the first Australian man to reach 100 T20I wickets. Namibia, batting first, were bowled out for just 72 runs in 17 overs.

Australia, having already secured victories over Oman and England, chased down the target in just 5.4 overs with the loss of one wicket. Travis Head remained unbeaten on 34, while captain Mitchell Marsh scored 18 not out, hitting the winning boundary.

Namibia struggled against Australia’s new-ball bowlers and fielding. Zampa then took over, dismantling Namibia’s lower order. His fourth wicket came on the last ball of his spell, bowling Bernard Scholtz to reach his 100-wicket milestone. “I bowled a couple of pies tonight to get a couple of wickets but that happens at times,” said Zampa after receiving the Man of the Match award. “I’ve been feeling really good and encouraged by the captain to take wickets through those middle overs.”

Namibia’s captain, Gerhard Erasmus, top-scored with 36 off 43 balls before being dismissed as the ninth wicket. Marcus Stoinis, sharing the new ball with Josh Hazlewood, also took two wickets. Erasmus commented, “You cannot sit back against the best in the world. We did not do that tonight.”

Australia’s comprehensive win sets up an interesting scenario for their final group match against Scotland, who are currently second in the group and could potentially eliminate title-holders England with a win.

In another match, Mohammad Rizwan and captain Babar Azam kept Pakistan’s hopes alive with a seven-wicket win over Canada. Rizwan and Babar put on a 63-run partnership as Pakistan chased down a target of 107 with 15 balls to spare. Rizwan remained unbeaten on 53 off 53 balls, while Babar scored 33 off as many deliveries.

This victory came after Pakistan lost their first two Group A fixtures, including a super-over loss to the United States and a six-run defeat to India. Despite the win, Pakistan’s chances of progressing remain uncertain with two points from three games, while India and the United States have four points each.

“We needed this win,” said Babar. “It was in our minds to win before 14 overs but the pitch made it difficult.” Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Amir, who took 2-13 and was named Man of the Match, added, “One more win and who knows?”

Canada, despite the loss, still have a chance for a Super Eights spot with two points from three games. Dilon Heyliger took two wickets for Canada, dismissing Saim Ayub and Babar. Earlier, Canada was restricted to 106-7 with opener Aaron Johnson scoring 52 off 44 balls.

Johnson’s dismissal in the 14th over, bowled by Naseem Shah, left Canada struggling to accelerate. Amir clean-bowled Navneet Dhaliwal, while Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf, and Imad Wasim contributed to Pakistan’s regular wickets. “They kept picking up wickets but had we scored 130-plus we could have made a game out of it,” said Canada skipper Saad Bin Zafar.

As Australia prepares for their next match against Scotland, captain Marsh hinted at resting a couple of players, praising Zampa’s contributions. “If you look at his career over the last four or five years, he’s probably our most important player,” said Marsh. “He loves the big moment, loves the pressure. I think that all comes with experience and he’s bowling beautifully at the moment.”

(AFP)

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