Matty Wade's scrap and Pakistan's predictability

Wade's batting is put together with spit, swearing and things he found in his shed.

Matthew Wade is pretty hated by, well, kinda everyone that isn't on his side. He sledges, and looks at people with disdain most of the time. And I remember one international cricketer telling me that he had no right being that aggressive when he was so shit.

I mean, he's not shit. But he's also never been that good. I invested in him early, as Wade always seemed to come to the crease when Victoria was about to lose a match, and often him save the day. I have a feeling he helped Victoria a title by being hit on the head one day, though that sounds completely made up.

But it's also on-brand. Wade has been a survivor, first cancer in this teen years, then being the keeper who took the gloves from Haddin, then being the keeper who took the gloves from Haddin again. Then Australia threw him in with the bat when he seemed completely lost. His batting is kind of bruised and weird, and he seems to only play when they are desperate, out of ideas, or that one time it looked like they brought him back as a sledger.

And in this tournament, they have made him being a number seven. Which is where his career started, but also where he has never been that good. In 12 innings before this a 23* in the 2009 Champions League from 29 balls was his highest-scoring innings at seven. He hasn't been much better at six either. He's been worst still at five.  Dire at four.  Not much chop at three. And in his entire career he's basically only been able to open in t20.

So of course Australia have put him as far possible from that position.  But they did it, because, despite his modern career record in that position and playing T20 for Australia, they trust him when things get tough. And this game did.

Pakistan had their quickest scoring powerplay of the tournament. That is not saying much, as Pakistan generally hit snooze as the innings starts. But scoring 47, taking a big over from Maxwell, making Cummins bowl twice in a period he doesn't like to felt like a big win for Pakistan, especially as they didn't lose a wicket.

But it was at this point Adam Zampa stood up, Mitch Marsh had just bowled one of his rare overs, and Pakistan went straight for him. Maxwell got through one of his. But in this period, it was the two Zampa overs that stood out. The seventh over went for four runs, and the 10th over was 1/3.

And it was this one that really made some difference, as this is when Pakistan decided to go after the spinners. But Zampa bowled like it was the death, and Babar Azam and was caught on the boundary. This one ball allowed for Australia to get the fifth bowling overs out of the way. Maxwell was now bowling to a better match up and a newer batter, so he zipped through his last over. In all, Australia's fifth bowler went for 31 runs, lower than the runs per over in the match.

So it meant that the first half of Australia's all-round gamble was successful. Zampa bowled well through the game of course. But was even better at the death. He has been outstanding all tournament. He's bowled well enough to cover for Hazlewood's occasional spills at the death, and allowed for Maxwell/Marsh/Stoinis to get nice overs to bowl.

The way Pakistan bat also helped Australia, they knew they would chip it around in the first ten before attacking, which meant they could slip their fifth bowler through there.  Babar and Rizwan might be run machines, but they won't punish you. So Australia could use their weaker bowlers upfront, backload their bowlers, and Pakistan then had to hit the best Bowlers.

Pakistan are four runs an over quicker in the second half of their innings than the first.  Australia knew that and used it. Hazlewood's over aside, Australia's plan worked. While Pakistan had a good score, it wasn't as high as you would think considering their fast start, low wicket total, and Australia's weak fifth option.

But all that would have looked absolutely fine if Shaheen had one of his overs. And fuck me, he came close, didn't he.

There has been a lot of talk about various players having a weakness to left-arm seam based on Shaheen Afridi dismissing them. In his first over tonight, he proved he is the most destructive force in cricket.

Finch didn't even bother referring his delivery; Marsh survived a leg stump Yorker by millimetres. And he was playing after the ball was dead. But Shaheen didn't take him or Warner, who played and missed by a foot to one. And then Marsh played a great innings that really kept Australia in the game when they struggled later on. Warner was the Warner who dominated the IPL year after year, and would have won the game easily for Australia had he not awaked after what seems like a play and miss.

Australia is still a weird team, they are 5-1, and in the final, but they do strange stuff. Sending Mitch Marsh in for the first over against Shaheen Afridi was odd. I mean if you have Steve Smith in your side, surely facing the world's most explosive new ball bowler is what you want him to do. But it wasn't just that, of Australia's first four wickets, three of them sent weird guys into the crease. Marsh ahead of Smith. Smith before Maxwell when the spinners were on in the seventh over. And then Stoinis ahead of Wade when they allowed the left-arm orthodox Imad Wasim to come on and steal another over for 3 runs.

If Pakistan were going to win this, either Shaheen cutting the head off the top order, or the spinners clamping down in the middle was how it would go.  And they should have won it. They have made an incredibly balanced side, with eight batting options and six (or seven if you want to count Shoaib Malik) bowlers. That's pretty good. They've made a side that makes good consistent runs, and their bowlers are Pakistani bowlers.

Put it this way, coming into this game, they had made 176 or more 26 times in T20I, and they had lost once. Of course, one of those was a World Cup semi-final to Australia.

And in the seventh over, Shadab came on, took a wicket, seemed to slow Australia down. And then the eighth over happened.

The ball got caught in Mohammad Hafeez's hand; that is not something you see happen a lot to off-spinners. Warner realised it was a no-ball and hit it for six. He took another two from the free hit. The first ball of the eighth over usually goes for 1.1 run; this one went for nine.

At this point Warner was probably not going to attack Hafeez, as he doesn't like to hit offspin. And Smith was new to the crease and would try to manoeuvre ones. So Hafeez turned what you have been an easy over for Pakistan into a nightmare, doubled down by bowling a wide as well.   The next over Warner went after Shadab's legspin which meant they had scored 47 runs from the first 26 balls of spin they had faced. Ofcourse for the next 22 balls of spin they managed 3/17; but they had a cushion.

I made a video about Australia and their gamble for this World Cup a week or so back.

They knew they didn't have anything resembling a genuine all rounder. So they have had to weaken their batting or bowling each game. They picked extra batting to start with, changed their mind to bowling, and then went back to batting. This game could have gone a lot of different directions. Still, in the 13th over, they were five wickets down and had that happened with an extra bowler in the lineup, Ashton Agar would have come to the crease.

It was Stoinis who really saved Australia here; six of those 17 runs came from him muscling a six against the flow.  Wade got stuck at the start. After almost five overs in the middle he was eight from nine, but by that point, Stoinis had already hit boundaries off Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali and Shadab. Including one straight drive from a Yorker, that power faded around the stumps.

Stoinis, like Wade - and everyone else - is an opener. Australia have used him down the order because they have to. But while at first he could be very hit, but more likely very miss. He's had one huge advantage, over the last few years he has batted in this spot for Delhi.  Austalia don't play enough T20Is to get him used to that spot, and he also didn't always bat there. But he does a lot in the IPL, and holy shit that came in handy as he kept Australia in the game.

Wade and Stoinis have played 52 T20s in their career at the MCG.

There are two important things about playing T20 there, you can always find a two if you are clever, and if you want to hit a six, you really need to hit the ball hard. In 17 balls during their partnership, they only found one boundary, but they had four twos. The sixes won them the game; the twos kept them in it.

Pakistan's death bowling wasn't good enough. But Australia wasn't exactly great either, the difference is Wade and Stoinis put away more of the bad balls,

Obviously there were two other massive things I haven't mentioned here.

The two loudest sounds at this match were the coin hitting the ground at the toss, and Hassan Ali dropping Wade. This is arguably the greatest Pakistan fielding side ever. They dive, back up, sprint, catch and cut off ones. They probably could have got a run out or two, and there was a bad misfield out on the boundary at one point.

But in 2016 Pakistan fielded like a club cricket side, and they have made absolute leaps and bounds in that regard, and then Matthew Wade hoiks one to the leg side, and Hasan Ali drops it. Remember that Steve Smith dropped just as easy a chance earlier in the game. But no one will remember that Hasan's drop has been tattooed on the broken hearts of Pakistani fans already.

But it was sixes that defined this partnership. Stoinis started their time together with one, and Wade finished the match with three straight. Game over man, game over.

Wade is always scrappy and sometimes effective. Australia usually throw him into the worse positions and just hope he makes it work. Wade's batting is put together with spit, swearing and things he found in his shed.  And his career has been long, odd and often frustrating.  I am not sure this is what he imagined when he was a young guy making his way. But he has batted on when the electors didn't rate him, when he's home fans have turned on him, when he's looked miles from his next run, But tonight all that fight came out of him in a good way, and it read six, six, six.

You could make a pretty good argument that the two best teams just went home in the semi-finals, and the toss is playing way too big a role in all this. But I think that Matthew Wade would say, 'fuck that, see the scoreboard champ'.