NZ moves into semis after 22-run win over Pakistan

The Black Caps thwarted Pakistan's forceful run-chase, powered by opener Sharjeel Khan's blistering knock, to notch up a 22-run victory and book a spot in the semifinals.

Martin Guptill scored his 10th Twenty20 International half-century, studded with ten fours and three sixes.   -  Reuters

Captains Kane Williamson and Shahid Afridi shake hands during the toss.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

The essence of New Zealand's fabulous journey in the World T20 lay in its ability to rise to varied challenges. On Tuesday, the Black Caps thwarted Pakistan's forceful run-chase, powered by opener Sharjeel Khan's blistering knock, to notch up a 22-run victory and book a spot in the semifinals.

> Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

The pitch at the PCA Stadium here promised a lot for the batsmen and Kane Williamson did not think twice while opting to bat. On the back of Martin Guptill's superb 80, New Zealand amassed 180 and fought well to restrict Pakistan to 158.

Guptill's fearless innings spurred New Zealand to a great start, accumulating 55 runs off the six Power Play overs. The opener, with an impressive strike rate and a healthy average, picked the length early to play big shots and took some risk to hit Mohammad Amir for three fours in an over. > Watch: Relaxed approach key to Black Caps success - Guptill

Guptill cut and pulled with confidence to put up an entertaining 62-run opening stand with Williamson. Enjoying the run feast, the Kiwis skipper did not mind playing a second fiddle. Pakistan picking up two quick wickets – Williamson and Colin Munro - had little effect on Guptill, who carried on his clinical hitting, featuring three straight sixes, to get his 10th half-century in T20 internationals.

Guptill and Corey Anderson (21) built another fast-paced stand, 52 off 34, to set the Black Caps for a big total before the opener was played on in the 15th over. Ross Taylor (36 not out) led the way at the death as New Zealand sustained the momentum to gather 53 runs in the last five overs.

Rollicking start

While most of the Pakistan bowlers struggled to find their rhythm, Sami kept it tight to pick up two wickets. Left-arm spinner Imad Wasim impressed with his variety, while Afridi gave away too many runs for his two. Pakistan's reply was more than befitting. When Sharjeel (47 off 25) ruthlessly butchered the New Zealand attack to provide a rollicking start to his team, it seemed as if Pakistan would make a mockery of the tall target.

The robust southpaw's imperious stroke play, predominantly on the onside, put New Zealand under tremendous pressure. Sharjeel ferociously pulled, flicked and drove to spread cheers in the stands and expose the below-par bowling of the Kiwis early in the innings.

Sanity returned to the New Zealand camp after the departure of Sharjeel, who sledge-hammered Mitchell Santner for three fours and Mitchell McClenaghan for three fours and a six in their first overs. He fell to a high catch at point off Adam Milne.

New Zealand captured the wickets of Khalid Latif and Ahmed Shehzad (30) to gain more ground and decelerate Pakistan's progress. It seized another key moment by removing the dangerous Afridi, brilliantly caught by a jumping Anderson at long-off in the 16th over. Pakistan ran out of steam as New Zealand benefitted from the tidy bowling of Milne, Sodhi and Santner and the good work of its fielders.

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