It was a night of contrasting fortunes for Pakistan and especially for Shaheen Shah Afridi. The difference between the first and the last over he bowled in this T20 World Cup aptly defies why cricket is termed as the great leveller.
Coming into this semi-final as the only unbeaten team in competition, Pakistan ticked most of the boxes during the game — yet another power-packed start with the bat after losing the toss, a much-needed flourish in the end, the highest first-innings score (176) in Dubai in this tournament and a first-over wicket from Shaheen in a classical fashion.
Well, everything was undone by those three consecutive sixes off Shaheen by Matthew Wade in front of a sea of green at the stands, bringing back the memories of that Michael Hussey heist in the 2010 semi-final.
Pakistan had never beaten Australia before in a knockout match of a global ICC event. However, this time they were being considered as the favourites to break this jinx. Babar Azam's team were on a 16-match winning streak in the UAE going into this fixture against Australia — a team which was still finding its feet in the shortest version of the game.
Yet, Pakistan crumbled, despite bossing the major part of the game. Perhaps, the law of averages finally got to them. Otherwise, a brilliant outfielder like Hasan Ali wouldn't have dropped that sitter to give Wade a reprieve in the 19th over, and the Aussie keeper-batsman made them pay badly.
Earlier, when Shadab Khan picked up the priced scalp of Glenn Maxwell, which was his fourth in as many overs, things looked dead and buried for Australia. They still needed 81 off 46 deliveries with two new batters — Marcus Stoinis and Wade — at the crease. The pair did bail the team out against South Africa in the first game but after that did not have enough time in the middle. And someone like Wade was yet to live upto the expectations as a finisher.
After Maxwell, no one gave Australia a chance of pulling this off. And unlike New Zealand's run-chase on the other night, the Aussies did have the luxury of having a set player at the crease.
Hence, the odds were not in Australia's favour and knowing that the Pakistani section of the media at the Dubai press box had already started talking about the possible stories which can be done surrounding a Pakistan-New Zealand final.
Nevertheless, the unpredictability of the game never ceases to amaze us.
The sixth-wicket pair started to pull things off in a well-controlled fashion. At the initial stage both Stoinis and Wade smartly maneuvered the fields to look for ones and twos along with one risk-free boundary shot in an over.
On the other hand, in a quest for a wicket to get into the Australia tail, Babar gave the 15th over to his strike bowler Shaheen. There was no specialist batsman left to come and a breakthrough at that point would have sealed the deal for Pakistan.
The Stoinis-Wade pair did not let that happen though. They played out that over of the left-armer safely and backed themselves to chase down the remaining 62 runs in the last five overs.
The duo wiped out 25 of those runs off Hasan and Haris Rauf, but with 37 required off 18 - the fielding team was still the favourites. Then it was Wade, who put the pressure back on Pakistan with a 15-run 18th over when he carted a length ball from Hasan over long-on and then flicked a hit-me ball for a four.
With 22 needed off 12 Babar had to give the penultimate over to his best bowler, Shaheen, who had given only 13 off his previous three overs.
The pacer started with a dot to Stoinis and then had an lbw appeal cancelled out by a review, but more importantly had only conceded a single off his first two balls. On the third ball Hasan dropped a catch of Wade on the deep square leg, which could have probably won the game for Pakistan.
Despite the missed opportunity, the morals were still high in the Pakistani camp. In fact, Shoiab Malik ran all the way from the long off region to Hasan to console him. Even the entire crowd applauded that gesture to boost the confidence of their team.
But they couldn't foresee what was coming their way.
Standing deep in the crease, Wade pre-empted to perfection and played two ramp shots off full balls for sixes. The second one was a 96-meter hit through the cow corner which stunned the Dubai crowd into silence. He then completed the hat-trick of sixes with a scoop over fine-leg in an attempted yorker to set-up a Trans-Tasmanian final for the first time in the T20 World Cup.