New Zealand defend again to enter semi-finals

New Zealand 180 for 5 (Guptill 80, Sami 2-23) beat Pakistan 158 for 5 (Sharjeel 47, Milne 2-26, Santner 2-29) by 22 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

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Watch – Martin Guptill smashes 49-ball 80

It seems Pakistan are not short of Achilles heels lately. New Zealand aimed an arrow at a rather famous one – their batting while chasing big totals – and came away the victors to become the first team to qualify for the 2016 World T20 semi-finals.

Pakistan, who knew their hopes of staying alive in the World T20 depended heavily on a favourable outcome tonight, looked a chase of 181 in the eye and blinked. Sharjeel Khan’s enterprising cameo had set them up. He himself had struck ten boundaries before the Powerplay was done and Pakistan’s fifty was raised in 24 balls – their fastest in T20Is.

However, once New Zealand doused Sharjeel’s fire, Pakistan’s went out as well. The batsmen down the order could not back up the early flurry and will face critique for being poor chasers. There were no boundaries – not one – in the last five overs, which led to the 18th failed chase of a 150-plus target for Pakistan. It left their hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals extremely bleak.

New Zealand had done their homework again – underneath a cover of grass lay a belter of a pitch and Martin Guptill began taking advantage of it as soon as he strode out to bat. The seventh ball he faced, from the seven-foot tall Mohammad Irfan, was lofted toweringly high into the air and became the first of six of the night. That shot, and his entire innings – 80 off 48 balls – was simple in design and an exhibition of a batsman well aware of his strengths.

Guptill is a tall man. His reach is longer than most players and he is not short of power either. So the moment he decides to hit straight, he has the upper hand. He secured 32 of his runs in the arc between long-off and long-on, including two of his 10 fours and all three of his sixes.

Full report to follow

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.


Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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