Hasan Ali dropped a simple catch of Matthew Wade in the penultimate over before the left-handed batter smoked three consecutive sixes off Shaheen Shah Afridi to help Australia chase down a target of 177 in the second semi-final against Pakistan on Thursday (November 11). Wade said the drop catch surely helped but it was Marcus Stoinis' 13-run over against Haris Rauf that started tilting the game in Australia's favour.
Australia needed 62 runs in the last five overs but Wade and Stonis got the job done with six deliveries to spare. Shadab Khan scalped four wickets in the middle overs and it looked like Pakistan were going to run away with the game but Stoinis (31-ball 40*) and Wade (17-ball 41*) had other ideas. The two put on an unbeaten stand of 81 runs for the sixth wicket and propelled Australia to their first T20 WC final since 2010.
"I don't think any of them (the drop and missed run-out chances) were the turning points of the match. I think the way Marcus Stoinis batted at the end, to be honest, was probably the turning point of the match," Wade said at the post-match press conference.
"I think when I came out there, he might have hit the spinner (Shadab) for six, the first ball when I got out there. I think that kind of play, in my eyes, he's really gutsy in those decisions that you make out in the middle, win you games. He could've easily blocked that ball he went for, hit a six and then that total comes down a little bit more.
"But I think the turning point of the game I thought was Marcus's over against Rauf. I thought that kind of swung the momentum our way and gave us an opportunity to win the game. It's just an easy thing to do to focus in on missed chances. Yes, maybe it would have gone down late in the last over, but I'm still confident we could have gone home.
“There's always pressure when you go out to bat in international cricket. That's what I was saying before about batting with Marcus at the moment, is that we try to slow the game down and work out the best way to tackle the total. No doubt I would have liked to be striking it a little bit better early. But I think Marcus's innings was underestimated, to be honest. It was a terrific innings. Took a lot of pressure off me early and gave me the ability to get in early and get them late.”
Both Wade and Stoinis open for their respective franchises in the Big Bash League but do the finishing job for their national team. The wicketkeeper-batter said he has played a lot of cricket with Stoinis and were confident of each other's abilities.
"It's confidence, I think. Confidence in your ability to be able to finish the game. To be able to bat with Marcus has been awesome. Obviously I've played a lot of cricket with him at Victoria and early on in his career. Obviously saw him grow into the cricketer he is today.
"To go out and bat with him certainly gives you a lot of confidence. I know if I can just hang with him for four or five overs, then he's going to find the boundary. He's too good and strong not to. So, the reason that me and him are working well towards the back end is we know each other's game so much.
"In the optional sessions, the day before the game, you'll find me and Steve Smith and Marcus Stoinis go down again in closed sessions because we haven't got a lot of match practice. It's been invaluable to see what those guys are doing in training, especially Stoiny, working out his strengths, when he's hitting the ball at his best. And he can see me do exactly the same thing."
The 33-year-old didn't shy away from accepting that his international career might have been over had he not finished the game for Australia in the semifinal. "I don't feel like it's on the line anymore so much because I'm not 23 anymore. And if this is it, this is it. It's not really on the line for me. It's going to be all over, I suppose. A little bit, I think... I was a little bit nervous coming into the game and knowing potentially it could be the last opportunity to represent Australia.
"I just wanted to do well and really wanted us to win this game, give us an opportunity to win the whole thing. We have a great bunch of guys in that dressing room and guys that I have played with for a long, long period of time.
"So, yeah, just really I feel like this game was probably hard on nerves than maybe what the final will be because now we're in it. We've got nothing to lose. We're going to go out there, do our absolute best. It [the final] might be my last game too. As I've said to you before in the past, I'm comfortable with it. If it is it, then it's it. I'll play as long as they need me and hopefully, we can win some games while I'm there."
Two of his last three sixes were scoops and Wade said this particular shot helps him to toy with the field a bit. "I've had those (scoops and laps) for a longish period of time. I've been playing them from early on in my career as well. But, yes, certainly it was something I needed to tap back into a little bit more when I'm batting down the bottom.
"It's easy to have the fine leg up a lot of the time at the end, but someone that laps, it kind of opens up the whole field for you. You've got to either have mid-off up or third man up or one of the fielders on the off side. It kind of opens the whole field up for you a little bit."