Mohali: New Zealand stormed into the semifinals of the World T20 with third successive victory in Group 2 on Tuesday after opener Martin Guptill smacked 80 off 48 balls to set up a 22-run win against Pakistan.
The Kiwis posted a strong 180 for five before restricting Pakistan to 158-5 off 20 overs on a sporting wicket at the Punjab Cricket Association ground in Mohali.
The win extended the Kiwis’ unbeaten streak in the tournament and also ensured them a place in the last four, their second semifinal of a global event since the last year.
Pakistan opener Sharjeel Khan had threatened to run away with the game after a blistering 25-ball 47 but his dismissal in the sixth over helped the Black Caps claw back on the back of some disciplined bowling and fielding.
Sharjeel gave Pakistan a flying start, hitting nine fours and a six, but the rest of the batsmen failed to rise up to the task.
His sparkling innings came to an end when he holed to Guptill off Adam Milne, and it was all downhill thereafter for Pakistan.
Guptill was the star of the show, smacking three sixes and 10 fours in his match-winning knock after skipper Kane Williamson won the toss and elected to bat.
Ross Taylor chipped in with an unbeaten 23-ball 36 to help his side put up a strong total on the board.
After a tentative start, Guptill smacked a huge six and a boundary off left-arm paceman Mohammad Irfan in the second over to set the pace for his innings.
Irfan’s new ball partner Mohammad Amir was not spared either, whacked for three fours by Guptill, the last two off consecutive balls.
Pak’s Semis Chances in Tatters
The Kiwis raced to 62-0 off eight overs before Williamson was caught off Irfan for 17.
Pakistan struck again soon with captain Shahid Afridi (2-40) sending back new batsman Colin Munro (seven) in the first over that he bowled.
Guptill appeared unruffled as he raced to his 10th half-century in T20 internationals with a couple off Afridi, prompting a standing ovation from his teammates in the dressing room.
But just as Guptill looked set for a bigger score, he chopped on to his stumps off Mohammad Sami, who was most impressive among the bowlers with figures of 2-23.
Pakistan’s chances of advancing in the tournament now appear slim with their second defeat in a row.