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Pakistan brush aside New Zealand to storm into final

A resurgent Pakistan declared Wednesday “the sky’s the limit” as captain Babar Azam rediscovered his form to help power them past New Zealand in Sydney and into a Twenty 20 World Cup final against either India or England.

Azam and Mohammad Rizwan got off to a flying start in pursuit of 153, putting on a 105-run opening stand in 12.4 overs to set up victory and a place in Sunday’s showpiece at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

If Azam had been under pressure after making just 39 runs in the tournament’s Super 12 stage, he did not show it, reaching his fifty off 38 balls in front of 36,443 strongly pro-Pakistan spectators at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Rizwan’s half-century followed, off 32 balls and they went on to become the first opening pair to post three century stands in T20 World Cup history before Azam fell for 53 off 42 balls. Pakistan’s seven-wicket win capped a remarkable comeback from the 2009 T20 World Cup winners who had been on the brink of elimination after last-ball defeats to India and Zimbabwe in their first two matches.

“I don’t think we have seen our best yet, which is probably the scarier part for whoever faces us,” said former Australia opening batsman Matthew Hayden, who has been a mentor to the team. “Sky’s the limit. You can never beat down class.”

Pakistan’s bowlers set the tone after Azam lost the toss. Aided by some razor sharp fielding they kept New Zealand to a below par 152/4.

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