New Zealand became the first team to qualify for the semi-finals of the World T20 tournament after beating Pakistan by 22 runs on Tuesday.
Pakistan needed 181 against the Black Caps in a must-win, and started strongly through Sharjeel Khan’s 25-ball 47 to reach 76-1 in seven overs. That is when Kane Williamson introduced Ish Sodhi to produce the match’s defining phase.
Sodhi, playing his first international match in the state that he was born, came on the back of a strong reputation built around his work in the wins over India and Australia. The leg-spinner lived up to his billing to not only finish with the wicket of the dangerous looking Shahid Afridi and concede only 25 runs from his four overs, but also created enough pressure for Mitchell Santner to pick up two wickets and strangle Pakistan to a 22-run defeat.
When Sodhi was done displaying his skills, Pakistan needed 52 in 24 balls with six wickets in hand. But Umar Akmal and Shoaib Malik could hardly find the gaps, as Pakistan failed to hit a boundary in its last 31 balls and finished on 158-5.
Martin Guptill spearheaded New Zealand’s innings with a Man of the Match knock of 80 off 41 balls before Ross Taylor finished things off with an unbeaten 36 from 24.