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Babar Azam pinpoints crucial dropped catch as Pakistan rue their missed opportunity

Hasan Ali's spill in the deep off Matthew Wade turns tight contest on its head

Danyal Rasool
Danyal Rasool
11-Nov-2021
Shoaib Malik tries to offer Babar Azam and Shadab Khan consolation after Australia's win, Australia vs Pakistan, T20 World Cup, 2nd semi-final, Dubai, November 11, 20211

Shoaib Malik tries to offer Babar Azam and Shadab Khan consolation after Australia's win  •  Getty Images

Pakistan captain Babar Azam acknowledged that Hasan Ali's key dropped catch in the 19th over might have cost his side a spot in the T20 World Cup final. Speaking immediately after Australia's five-wicket win in Dubai that put an end to Pakistan's hopes of emulating their victory in the 2009 tournament, a visibly gutted Babar said mistakes at this level were bound to be punished.
With the game finely poised and Shaheen Shah Afridi bowling a make-or-break 19th over, Australia needed 20 off 10 balls for victory. Marcus Stoinis and Matthew Wade had dragged Australia back into the game with a 61-run stand for the sixth wicket, but the momentum looked set to swing again when Wade mistimed a drive to deep midwicket, only for Hasan to put down the chance.
The moment capped a difficult day - and tournament - in general, for Hasan, who had just conceded 15 runs in the previous over. Wade went on to hit Shaheen for three sixes off the next three balls as Australia sealed a sensational heist.
"When you give teams like Aus a chance they take the match away from you," Babar said after the game. "If that catch that Hasan Ali dropped had been taken, maybe the result would have been different. As a player, you have to be on your toes and avail any opportunity you get. We made a mistake and it cost us the match."
It was Pakistan's first defeat after cruising through the group stages with five wins out of five, including a famous ten-wicket win over India and a five-wicket victory over their fellow qualifiers New Zealand, who went on to complete a successful run-chase against England in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday to book their own place in Sunday's final.
"The way we played the tournament and gelled together as a team, I am very satisfied with my team's efforts as captain," Babar said. "We'll try and learn from our mistakes and come back stronger. When you play a big tournament so well, it's good but you have to perform on the day. You can't relax in any department."
The semi-final defeat stung particularly hard for Pakistan given that they had been the most settled team of the tournament. They made no changes to their line-up throughout their group-stage dominance but, as was the case in a famous T20 World Cup semi-final against Australia in 2010, Pakistan found themselves undone by a fightback from the lower middle order to deprive them of a place in the final. Babar, however, said the tournament there were plenty of positives through the tournament to take forward.
"We'll try and continue our efforts; how we performed gave us confidence and we'll try and build on from that," he said. "The roles we had defined for everyone, they executed brilliantly, and you saw that from us on the field. The way the crowd supported us was very enjoyable. We always enjoy ourselves here and I'm thankful to the fans back home for supporting us."

Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000