Pakistan thump New Zealand to reach T20 World Cup final

Openers put on 105 as Pakistan chase down 153 to reach the final of the tournament they last won in 2009.

Azam and Rizwan put on 105 for the opening wicket [AFP]

Openers Babar Azam and Muhammad Rizwan hit half-centuries as Pakistan beat New Zealand by seven wickets to reach the T20 World Cup final.

Opting to bat first on Wednesday, New Zealand could only manage 152-4 thanks to a disciplined show by Pakistan in the field.

In reply, captain Azam and Rizwan put on 105 for the opening wicket to lay the foundations of the thumping win.

Babar was dropped behind the stumps off the first delivery he faced but went on to score 53, while Rizwan hit 57 off 43 deliveries before Shan Masood got Pakistan over the line at 153-3 with five balls to spare.

Pakistan will take on India or England – who meet in the second semi-final on Thursday – in Sunday’s final.

Earlier, paceman Shaheen Afridi led the way with 2-24 as the Black Caps were restricted to a below-par total.

Pakistan last claimed the title in 2009 at Lord’s in England when they beat Sri Lanka by eight wickets, and it has been a rollercoaster ride in Australia to make another final.

After agonising last-ball losses to India and Zimbabwe in the group phase, they bounced back to topple the Netherlands and South Africa. Then against the odds they went through when the Proteas were stunned by the Dutch and Pakistan eased past Bangladesh.

New Zealand, who topped Group 1, were aiming to make the final for the second consecutive time, but their hunt for a maiden T20 title again fell short.

Teams batting first had won five from six games played in Sydney this tournament and when Kane Williamson won the toss he had no hesitation in asking Pakistan to bowl, but it proved to be tough going.

In an eventful opening over, Finn Allen hit Shaheen Afridi for four off the first delivery then was given out the next ball leg-before. It was overturned on review because of an inside edge only for Afridi to promptly do the same again and this time it was plumb.

Devon Conway and Williamson steadied the ship and helped lay the foundation for a total their bowlers could work with.

Azam, who was desperate for runs after making just 39 in five matches before the semi-final, was dropped first ball by wicketkeeper Conway off Trent Boult in the reply.

But after his nervy start he hammered a four off Boult and partner Rizwan also helped himself to two boundaries in a costly 15-run over for New Zealand.

They plundered more boundaries off Tim Southee in another 15-run over, racing to 55-0 from the powerplay.

Azam brought up his half-century before New Zealand got a glimmer of hope when he was caught in the deep off Boult and the same bowler then removed Rizwan.

But Mohammad Haris (30) and Shan Masood (three not out) kept their nerve to steer them home.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies