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Malik sizzles in Pakistan’s 72-run win, to face Australia in semifinals

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Playing international cricket since the last century, when some of his current teammates were not even born, Shoaib Malik on Sunday showed them the way with an astonishing 18-ball 54 to set up Pakistan’s 72-run mauling of Scotland in the T20 World Cup.

It was the tournament’s joint fastest half-century alongside India opener K L Rahul’s 18-ball 50, which also came against Scotland, as Pakistan stopped the Scots at 117 for six after posting an imposing 189 for four.

As her Indian tennis player wife Sania Mirza watched from the stands, Malik, 39, blasted six sixes during his whirlwind unbeaten knock, which overshadowed skipper Babar Azam’s fourth half-century of the tournament.

Batting first, Pakistan pummelled 129 runs in the back 10 after limping to 60 for two at the halfway stage.

With the ball, the in-form team did what was expected of them in their last Super 12 engagement to set up a semifinal date with Australia.

Pakistan blazed its way into the last four with five wins from as many outings, underlining their credentials as one of the firm favourites.

Thanks to Malik’s blitz, Pakistan scored 43 runs in the last two overs, including 26 in the final six balls bowled by Chris Greaves.

Coincidentally, it was at this very venue that Malik made his One-day International debut in October 1999, against West Indies. His first Pakistan captain, Wasim Akram, retired from the game nearly two decades ago.

Meanwhile Babar, who once again donned the role of the accumulator, became only the third batter to score four half-centuries in a T20 World Cup after former Australia opener Matthew Hayden and India captain Virat Kohli, who achieved the feat in 2007 and 2014 respectively.

Having struggled to 60 for two at the halfway stage, Pakistan got 129 runs in back 10.

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