In-form New Zealand opener Martin Guptill blasted 80 from 48 balls as Kiwis put up 180 for 5 batting first, and went on to register an easy 22-run win over Pakistan at Mohali on Tuesday. With their third win in as many matches, Kane Williamson’s men also secured their place in the semi-finals of the event. To chase down 181, Pakistan needed to get off to a rollicking start. They did the same, as Sharjeel Khan raced away to 47 from 25. But, Pakistan could not maintain the desired tempo throughout, and ended up managing only 158 for 5.
Sharjeel began in aggressive fashion, as 15 runs came from the first over bowled by Mitchell Santner. The first ball, a full toss, was muscled back to the on-side fence. Next was a slog sweep, and the over finished with a slow ball being lofted over mid-off. Sharjeel progressed to slam Mitchell McClenaghan for three fours and a six in an over. He eventually fell for 47, scooping one in the air off Adam Milne. Pakistan lost their way completely after the aggressive opener departed. Ahmed Shehzad struggled before falling for 30 from 32. Umar Akmal’s 24 also came at under a run-a-ball. Pakistan went into the last two overs needing 39. It was match over.
Earlier, having won the toss and deciding to bat first, New Zealand blazed away thanks to Guptill, who smashed 10 fours and three sixes. There were good support acts from Corey Anderson (21 from 14) and Ross Taylor (36 not out from 23), as New Zealand pushed towards an impressive score. Mohammad Amir was expected to lead Pakistan with the ball, but ended up with 0 for 41. The other Mohammad, Irfan, also went for 46 as Pakistan failed to control the New Zealanders.
Guptill showed his intent very early in the innings. In the second over bowled by Irfan, he launched the tall pacer over long-on for a six. Guptill then turned his attention to Amir, and took three fours off the over. He slammed one over mid-on for four, and then caught one through backward point before an outside raced through third man for another four. Imad Wasim’s introduction saw Guptill launching him beyond long-on. He took on Mohammad Sami as well, slapping him for a six down the ground, and then pulling a short one over midwicket for another four.
New Zealand had a brilliant power play, racing to 55 in six overs. Kane Williamson, who was pretty much a silent partner in the stand, perished for 17, mistiming a slower one from Irfan to cover. Shahid Afridi then had Colin Munro as the batsman played his favourite switch hit to sweeper cover. Guptill was joined in by Anderson, and he wasted no time in teeing off, taking two fours off Irfan in one over. Guptill continued to punish the loose balls until he played an incoming delivery from Sami onto his stumps. Taylor however slammed Amir for a six over long-on, as 16 came off the last over.
--By A Cricket Correspondent