New Zealand became the first team to book a spot in the World Twenty20 semi-finals after opener Martin Guptill smashed his 10th half-century to set up a 22-run win against Pakistan in their Super 10 stage match on Tuesday.
The right-handed Guptill hit 10 fours and three sixes in his 48-ball 80, sharing an opening stand of 62 with New Zealand captain Kane Williamson, after an unchanged visiting side won the toss on a green-tinged surface at Mohali to post 180-5.
Sharjeel Khan (47) gave his team a brisk start in their chase with New Zealand either bowling too short or too full on his pads as Pakistan raced to 61-0 in five overs.
However, the rest of Pakistan’s batsmen found it hard to hit the boundaries after paceman Adam Milne dismissed the left-handed opener, who struck nine fours and a six in his 25-ball knock.
Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi, who is set to retire from international cricket after the tournament, promoted himself to No. 5 in a bid to provide momentum, but his vigil at the crease lasted nine balls in which he scored 19.
It was New Zealand’s third straight win in Group Two after victories over hosts India and local rivals Australia.
Pakistan, who are in second place with one win from three matches, need to beat the Australians in their final game and hope other results go their way to reach the last four.
Third-placed Australia and India in fourth each have one win from two matches, while bottom side Bangladesh, who came through the qualifiers to join the Super 10 stage, have little chance of progressing after losing their first two games.
“The batting unit played their roles really nicely and after a tough start the bowlers pulled it back nicely,” Williamson said after the Black Caps successfully defended their score for the third time in the tournament.
Kiwi left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner, who was taken for 15 runs in the first over of the innings, came back superbly to finish with figures of 2-29 in his four overs and, along with leg-spinner Ish Sodhi, applied the brakes on Pakistan’s scoring.
Milne also kept the batsmen on a tight leash with figures of 2-26 as Pakistan could only manage 158-5 in their 20 overs.
“We played well in the first six [overs], but after that we did not,” Afridi said. “We tried to hit the ball, tried to go for the boundary and we played a lot of dot balls.”
Earlier, Guptill also combined with Corey Anderson (21) for a third-wicket stand of 52 that set the platform for Ross Taylor (36 not out) to finish with a flourish.
Mohammad Amir gave away 16 runs in the final over with Taylor hitting him for six and four to ensure Pakistan would have to score over nine runs an over in their chase.
Mohammad Sami and Afridi picked up two wickets each for Pakistan, who made two changes to the team that lost to archrivals India on Saturday.
Mohammad Hafeez failed to recover from a knee injury while paceman Wahab Riaz was hit in the head by a ball during practice and they were replaced by batsman Khalid Latif and spin-bowling all-rounder Imad Wasim.
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