New Zealand thumps Pakistan to enter semis
Martin Guptill hit a robust 80 to steer New Zealand into the semi-finals of the World Twenty20 with a clinical 22-run win in Group 2 at Mohali on Tuesday.
Guptill’s innings lifted New Zealand to an imperious 180-5 in their 20 overs before New Zealand spinners restricted Pakistan to 158-5 on a flat Punjab cricket stadium pitch.
It was again a case of lack of planning from Pakistan as they failed to build on a punishing 47 off 25 balls from Sharjeel Khan with nine boundaries and a six but once the left-hander departed Ahmed Shehzad (30 off 32 balls) and Umar Akmal (24 off 26) managed just 31 in the next seven overs.
Sharjeel hit the first ball of the innings from left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner for a boundary and then hit two more in the same over to start with 15.
The left-hander smashed two more boundaries in the third over by Adam Milne and went one step ahead with three boundaries and a six off Mitchell McClenaghan’s fourth of the innings, taking Pakistan past 50 off just 24 balls.
But once Sharjeel departed, New Zealand pulled back through their spinners Mitchell Santner (4-0-29-2) as there was no boundary from 6.1 to 12.5 overs.
It was Shahid fridi who yet again lifted the tempo with a boundary and then a huge six off leg-spinner Ish Sodhi towards deep mid-wicket. But it needed a stunning catch to dismiss the Pakistan skipper as his lofted drive off Sodhi was smartly snapped up by a jumping Corey Anderson a yard away from the long-off boundary.
The effort was the defining moment of the match as Pakistan needed 58 off the last five, 52 off the last four and 46 off three.
Shoaib Malik made 15 off 13 balls but failed to score a boundary. In fact Pakistan’s last 31 balls were without a boundary as New Zealand tightened the screws in that phase.
Guptill was instrumental in New Zealand reaching an commanding total after Kane Williamson won the toss and opted to bat on a grassy pitch which was firm and suited batting.
Guptill put on 62 with Williamson (17) by the eighth over, hitting Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Irfan for boundaries and sixes in the power-play.
Williamson departed when he miscued a drive off Irfan and was caught at covers by Afridi. Colin Munro hit a boundary but repeated his shot which failed him against India as well, reverse sweeping Afridi straight into the hands of deep point.
Paceman Mohammad Sami finally removed Guptill as the batsman inside edged onto his stumps, much to the sigh of relief of the Pakistani players who were looking for wickets.
Afridi had Corey Anderson caught at long-off but Ross Taylor 36 not out on 36 deliveries and Luke Ronchi (11) added 48 in the last 4.4 overs.
Sami finished with 2-23 in his four overs while Afridi took 2-40, taking his T20 wicket tally to 97 — the best in this format. He also overtook Sri Lankan Lasith Malinga as the highest wicket-taker in World Twenty20s with 39. Malinga, ruled out with injury in this event, has 38.
Pakistan now rely on other results, hoping Bangladesh to beat India on Wednesday to harbour any hopes of staying in the tournament as they face Australia in their last group match in Mohali on Friday.