Yes, you heard it right! New Zealand has clinched a spot in the semi-finals of the ICC World T20 2016 after emerging victorious in all the matches that they have played including their recent win against Pakistan by 22 runs.
The Pakistan seam attack was taken apart by the Kiwis right from the outset. The pitch also favoured the stroke-makers and the New Zealand batsmen made perfect use of it. Martin Guptill’s resplendent 80 off 48 balls helped his team post a massive total of 180 for the Pakistan team to chase. No bowler was spared as he bagged 3 sixes and 10 fours. His batting was clinical as he shared a 62 run opening stand with skipper Kane Williamson and 52 runs with Cory Anderson for the third wicket. Pakistan tried to restrict the runs and pulled the run rate down considerably.
Though they started losing wickets in the middle overs, Guptill hung in there and created a perfect atmosphere for Ross Taylor’s attack in the death overs.The upcoming batsmen ensured that they kept the runs coming and scored 16 runs in Mohammad Irfan’s ultimate over.
At the start of their chase, Pakistan too, fared similar to the New Zealand team .Sharjeel Khan, the left handed opener smashed an aggressive 45 runs as the team managed to score over 10 runs per over in the powerplay, putting the bowlers under great pressure.
But the loss of Sharjeel, who cracked the ball straight to Guptill at deep mid-wicket, shifted the pressure back onto Pakistan. Prominent players like Shahid Afridi, too, succumbed to pressure and could not save the team’s performance. They needed 39 of the last 2 overs and eventually fell short by 22 runs.
While New Zealand becomes the first team to enter the semi-finals of the tournament, the Pakistan team will have to ensure that the results of the remaining matches favour them, if they have to make it to the knockout stages.
Brief scores: New Zealand 180/5 in 20 overs (Martin Guptill 80, Ross Taylor 36*, Mohammad Sami 2-23) beat Pakistan 158/5 in 20 overs (Sharjeel Khan 47, Adam Milne 2-26, Mitchell Santner 2-29) by 22 runs.
(Read Also: Teams reaching the Semi-finals of ICC World T20 2016)