- Publish Date
- Wednesday, 23 March 2016, 7:48AM
New Zealand have made it three wins from three matches at the world T20 championship with a 22-run victory over Pakistan in Mohali today.
That will put New Zealand into the semifinals, with only Bangladesh to play in their group, and although they remain alive, it puts Pakistan on the precipice of elimination.
Having put up a challenging 180 for five, based on opener Martin Guptill's fine 80 off 48 balls, New Zealand would have had some early jitters as Sharjeel Khan went on a spectacular tear for Pakistan.
However they gradually subsided after his dismissal for 47 off 25 balls, finishing on 158 for five.
That said, it was not until the 11th over that New Zealand's comparable score edged ahead of Pakistan's.
A miserly period of bowling from spinners Mitch Santner and Ish Sodhi and medium pacer Grant Elliott dried up Pakistan's run rate.
In five overs from the eighth to 12th, they conceded just 20 runs. The pressure started to tell and New Zealand kept their foot down.
It was a big difference from the early stages where Sharjeel was largely responsible for a boundary coming off the first ball of the first three overs, and off the second delivery of the fourth, sixth and seventh overs.
When Pakistan's captain Shahid Afridi was brilliantly caught, leaping high on the long off boundary, by Corey Anderson for 19 off nine balls, that signaled the end for Pakistan.
They were unable to find the boundary over the last 31 balls of the innings.
They needed 44 off the last three overs, which was well beyond their capabilities.
Santner, despite going for 15 off his first over, took two for 29; Sodhi was outstanding, taking one for 25 off his four; while speedster Adam Milne bagged two for 26 off his four.
New Zealand will play Bangladesh in Kolkata on Saturday night (NZT).
Man of the match Guptill appreciated batting on a pitch more akin to New Zealand conditions than they had found in their first two pool games against India and Australia in Nagpur and Dharamsala.
"We found early the wicket was a bit better than what we've been playing on, so we were able to play our shots a bit more and Kane (Williamson) and I just wanted to go out and be a bit more aggressive and it paid off for us," Guptill said of their rattling opening stand of 62 off 7.2 overs.
Guptill said the pair had targets they wanted to achieve early on and managed to achieve them.
"We put up a decent total and the bowlers came out and did their job very well," he added.
Williamson praised the work of his slow bowlers Santner and Sodhi.
"They've been very consistent, very smart,"he said.
"We've played on a couple of wickets that spun viciously. We came here and they adapted nicely on a wicket that didn't take a huge amount of spin.
"We were put under a lot of pressure today by Pakistan, but the way the guys adjusted on a different surface was very good."
Afridi thought 181 was an achievable target, and especially after the flying start overseen by Sharjeel and Ahmed Shehzad.
But Pakistan lost their way, had too many dot balls and were unable to maintain momentum, which is credit to the New Zealand bowlers, who felt some heat early in the innings and responded impressively.
There was plenty to admire about the way New Zealand's bowlers kept their cool as Sharjeel, urged on by a boisterous crowd, took the attack to them.
He clouted nine fours and a six - all bar one to the leg side - took 18 in Mitchell McClenaghan's first over and gave Pakistan just the impetus they needed.
But this New Zealand attack are playing savvy cricket. Sodhi has been a treat to watch, while Santner goes from strength to strength. They stuck at their job and Pakistan unravelled.
At the tail end of New Zealand's innings, when they needed a final push, Ross Taylor came good, finishing on 36 off 23 balls.
Earlier Guptill struck three sixes - two of them superbly timed lofted blows to long on -- and 10 fours, adding 62 in 7.2 overs with Williamson then 52 in 34 balls with Anderson for the third.
He completed his 10th T20 half century in 33 balls and had a second century in this form in his sights before playing a good delivery from fast bowler Mohammad Sami onto his stumps.
Pakistan's bowling was a mixed bag.
Sami was comfortably the pick, full of hustle in taking two for 23 from his four overs, while Afridi took two for 40 and Mohammad Amir did well until 16 came off his final over, the last of the innings.
New Zealand have six points, with Australia, India and Pakistan all on two. The clash between India and Australia, also in Mohali, early next Monday morning (NZT) is looming as the clutch match of the pool to find the second qualifier for the semifinals.