New Zealand cruised into the semifinals of the ICC T20 World Cup 2016 with a comfortable 22-run win over Pakistan after opener Martin Guptill set the tone with a scintillating 48-ball 80 here today, continuing their dream run in the mega event.
Opting to bat after the coin landed in skipper Kane Williamson’s favour, New Zealand rode on Guptill’s knock to notch up a formidable 180 for five in the stipulated 20 overs.
In reply, Pakistan were restricted to 158 for five, further dampening their prospects of securing a last-four berth in the mega-event.
Chasing a stiff target, Pakistan were given a flying start by Sharjeel Khan, who blazed away to 47 off just 25 balls with the help of nine boundaries and a six.
Such was Sharjeel’s onslaught that Pakistan were well past 50-run mark by the end of the fourth over at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium.
Even as Sharjeel was dealing in boundaries, his opening partner Ahmed Shehzad rotated the strike around while finding the fence occasionally.
Pakistan were cruising at 65 for no loss in the sixth over when Sharjeel, going for one too many, mistimed and ended up giving a catch to Guptill off the bowling of Adam Milne, giving his team the much-needed breakthrough.
Mitchell Santner gave New Zealand another break when the left-arm spinner had Shehzad, once again caught by Guptill for 30 in the ninth over with Pakistan at 79 for two.
Khalid Latif, who was brought in place of Mohammad Hafeez, fell cheaply to Santner (2/29), the spinner continuing his impressive run in the tournament.
As Pakistan suddenly found themselves on the backfoot, skipper Shahid Afridi revived hopes with a couple of quick boundaries and a massive six.
However, his dismissal by leg-spinner Ish Sodhi in the 16th over left the team in a spot of bother at 123 for four. Corey Anderson took a well-judged catch at long-off as Pakistan’s middle-order found it difficult to score at a quick rate. Sodi bowled economically to finish his four-over spell with figures of 1/25.
Even as the pressure was building up and the required run rate rising, the New Zealanders looked to bowl to a disciplined line and length. The pressure got to Umar Akmal (24) who, while trying to break the shackles, offered a catch off Milne.
Shoaib Malik and Sarfraz Ahmed were unbeaten on 15 and 11 respectively when the match ended. Earlier, Guptill smashed the Pakistani bowlers as New Zealand notched up a formidable score.
The 29-year-old right-handed batsman struck 10 boundaries and three sixes.
Guptill added 62 runs for the first wicket with Kane Williamson (17) before the skipper was dismissed by Mohammad Irfan in the eighth over at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium.
Colin Munro fell cheaply for seven but the opener, who has a century in this format, found an able ally in Corey Anderson, with whom he added 52 runs in five overs to consolidate New Zealand’s position.
Anderson contributed 21 off 14 balls, hitting three boundaries.
But the star of the evening was undoubtedly Guptill, who mixed caution with aggression beautifully and found the boundaries with considerable ease. He looked dangerous right from the start and frustrated the Pakistani bowlers.
And while Pakistan finally got Guptill when he was bowled by Mohammad Sami, Ross Taylor stood in their way and scored a quickfire 36 off 23 balls with the help of two boundaries and a six.
Right-arm pacer Sami took the prized wicket of Guptill in the 15th over, but by then he had done the damage.
In the third over, Guptill hit three fours off Mohammad Aamir and hit spinner Imad Wasim for a six in another.
Even Sami was shown little respect by the Kiwi, who hit him for a six and a four in one over. Afridi, too, came in for some heavy stick from Guptill as New Zealanders raced to 100 in just 12 overs.
Left-arm pacer Mohd Irfan provided the first breakthrough in the eighth over when Williamson, who was looking to go down the wicket, handed over a catch to Shahid Afridi.
In the ninth over, Munro mistimed a switch-hit and balloned a catch to Sharjeel Khan, giving Afridi the scalp. The Pakistan skipper also got the wicket of Anderson.
Luke Ronchi (11) was removed by Sami when he ended up offering a catch to Shoaib Malik, in a bid to accelerate.
Sami was the pick of the Pakistani bowlers giving away just 23 runs and earning two wickets.
Left-arm spinner Imad Wasim remained wicketless giving away 26 runs.