T20 World Cup: Thought it could be my last opportunity for Australia - Wade

Matthew Wade thought the T20 World Cup semifinal against Pakistan could be his last opportunity to represent Australia before becoming the star of the show.

Cock-a-hoop: Matthew Wade (left) and Marcus Stoinis embrace after Australia pulled off a heist against Pakistan.   -  REUTERS

The knockouts of the ICC limited overs’ tournaments have seen the emergence of some unlikely heroes who have excelled under pressure. From New Zealand’s Grant Elliott in the 2015 World Cup semifinal and Pakistan’s Fakhar Zaman in the 2017 Champions Trophy final to New Zealand’s Daryl Mitchell two nights ago, the list has a few characters who have outdone the stars in their respective line-ups to take their team home.

On Thursday night, at the Dubai International Cricket Academy, Matthew Wade joined the list by helping Australia end Pakistan’s unbeaten run in the ICC men's T20 World Cup, with a five-wicket win in the semifinal. Wade’s unbeaten 17-ball 41 and his lap-shot assault on Shaheen Shah Afridi, one of the premier pacers of the tournament, resulted in the wicketkeeper-batter being deservedly adjudged the player of the match.

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What makes Wade stand out more than the rest is that he has been around the international scene for almost a decade. Three years ago, when he was dropped from Australia’s squad across all three formats, Wade’s international career seemed to be all but over.

Since then, the left-hander has forced his way back into the team as a specialist batter and even led Australia occasionally in limited-overs.

 

“I am happy that I got the opportunity to reinvent myself, go away and come back with more confidence. I feel like I belong at the international level now,” Wade said after Australia set up a final against New Zealand, riding on Wade and Marcus Stoinis's exploits to overhaul a target of 177 with an over to spare.

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“I reinvented myself as a batsman and all of a sudden, I am playing as a keeper-batsman and now batting at 7. I feel like the older I am, the more eyes wide open I am a little bit more about the opportunity I got. Didn’t worry me to go down the order. Hasn’t worried me at all whether I captained or not. I am just grabbing every opportunity I get."

Having been in and out of the side for a decade now, Wade’s career more resembles some of his sub-continental counterparts than those Down Under. But he seems to have made peace with it.

“I don't know when my last game will be. I treat every match like it potentially could be [my last]. I am sure when it’s all over and when I get the tap on the shoulder, I’ll look back on the last three or four years and be proud of the way I could come back,” Wade said.

“It’s not the first time I have come back. I have been dropped four or five times, probably the most in Australian cricket. I am proud that I can come back and hopefully at the end of my career, I can look back on what’s left and I can be proud that I could contribute to what we have done.”

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