Despite a flying start through Sharjeel Khan, Pakistan fell short by 22 runs to lose to New Zealand today at Mohali giving the Kiwis a spot in the semifinal of the World Cup T20. Earlier a blistering 80-run knock from Martin Guptill helped New Zealand post a challenging total of 180 runs.
Defending 181, Kane Williamson opted to use Mitchell Santner in the opening over, in an attempt to exploit Sharjeel Khan's weakness against spin. However, the southpaw went after the left-arm spinner and took 14 runs off the first over. That one over gave Sharjeel the confidence he was lacking, and he played a blazing knock after that.
The 26-year-old peppered the leg side boundaries – from midwicket to the third man – and for some strange reasons the New Zealand bowlers kept bowling at his pads. In the fourth over, he dismissed Mitchell McClenaghan for three boundaries and a massive six, and all of a sudden the target was looking fairly ordinary.
Just before the end of the powerplay, Pakistan lost the wicket of Sharjeel though, when he skied the ball to Martin Guptill while attempting another big shot. But by then he had given his team the platform they needed to win the match.
However, his departure started a collapse, something the Pakistani fans are all too familiar with, and they kept losing wickets at regular intervals. All their middle-order batsmen failed to accelerate, other than Afridi, who was also removed by a fantastic catch from Corey Anderson at the boundary. From 65-0 in 5.2 overs, Pakistan went to 123-4 in 15.1 overs.
The likes of Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal wasted a lot of deliveries for their runs, and the asking rate kept rising steady – till it got out of hand. Shoaib Malik and Sarfraz Ahmed had too much to do in the death overs, and eventually, Pakistan fell short by 22 runs.
Earlier today, New Zealand, who are sitting pretty at the top of the points table in Group 2, used an unchanged lineup in this game. Pakistan, on the other hand, were under a lot of pressure after losing the big match against India at the Eden Gardens. Shahid Afridi though, was looking forward and said, “Last game is history and this is an important game for us”. Pakistan made two changes to their lineup with Mohammad Hafeez and Wahab Riaz being replaced by Khalid Latif and Imad Wasim.
Kane Williamson won the toss and decided to make first use of the pitch, which according to the New Zealand skipper looked 'pretty good, had a bit of grass but dry underneath'.
Mohammad Amir was unable to extract any lateral movement, off the pitch or in the air, with the new ball as the New Zealand openers were hardly troubled. Martin Guptill started from where he left off against Australia, and alongside Kane Williamson, he got his team off to a fast start.
It started with a massive six down the ground off Mohammad Irfan, and what followed was a masterclass- even Amir was not spared on the night as Guptill hit him for three boundaries in the third over. By the time Mohammad Irfan dismissed Williamson, the Black Caps already had 62 runs on the board in 7.2 overs.
Colin Munro was promoted up the order to maintain the scoring rate, but he held out at the third man boundary while attempting to hit Shahid Afridi for a six with a reverse sweep. However, Corey Anderson and Guptill formed another crucial partnership for New Zealand, just when Pakistan were looking to come back into the game.
The duo put on 52 runs before Guptill's trailblazing innings of 80 runs, which consisted of 10 boundaries and three sixes, came to an unlucky end. The right-hander played the ball onto his stumps while trying to run the ball down to the third man.
Anderson departed in quick succession in the 16th over, and it was left to Ross Taylor and Luke Ronchi to take their team to a decent score. Sami bowled a brilliant penultimate over where he conceded just four runs, and dismissed Ronchi, and it held New Zealand back considerably. In the end, the Black Caps managed a challenging total of 180 runs, as Taylor went after Amir in the last over.
AB de Villiers or Virat Kohli - who will score more runs?
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