New Zealand team T20 World Cup 2022
New Zealand bowlers restricted Ireland to 150/9. Photo: Twitter/ICC

T20 WC: New Zealand moves closer to semi-final spot with win over Ireland

Captain Kane Williamson returned form with a 35-ball 61 as New Zealand defeated Ireland by 35 runs to virtually seal a spot in the semi-finals of the ICC T20 World Cup 2022 in Adelaide on Friday (November 4).

The Black Caps were on course for a 200-plus total before pacer Joshua Little picked up a memorable hat-trick to limit the Kiwis to 185/6 in their Super 12 Group 1 clash at the Adelaide Oval.

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Spinners Ish Sodhi (2/26) and Mitchell Santner (2/29) stifled Ireland, who ended with 150/9. Pacer Lockie Ferguson picked up three wickets.

New Zealand is set to top the group with seven points from five games and have a better run rate compared to England and Australia, who can also get to seven points.

T20 World Cup Points Table

Ireland failed to advance to the semi-finals but can hold their head high after a memorable campaign that included wins against the West Indies and England.

Paul Stirling (37 off 27) and captain Andrew Balbirnie (30 off 25) kept Ireland in the game with a 68-run stand off 49 balls for the opening wicket but their dismissal in a space of six balls sealed Ireland’s fate.

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Both Santer and Sodhi made strong comebacks after going for runs in their respective first overs with Stirling and Balbirnie looking in ominous touch.

They purposely slowed down their pace to make it tougher for the batters to put the deliveries away and that worked instantly. Balbirnie played on to his stumps while attempting a cut shot off Santner.

In the following over, Stirling went for a slog sweep off Sodhi only to see his stumps disturbed, leaving Ireland at 70/3. A battling collapse followed with Ireland reduced to 120/6.

Earlier, Williamson batted at a strike rate of more than 100 for the first time in this tournament and got fluent as his innings progressed. His knock comprised five fours and three sixes.

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The other notable contributions came from opener Finn Allen (32 off 18), the in-form Glenn Phillips (17 off 9) and Daryl Mitchell (31 not out off 21).

Left-arm pacer Little put the brakes on the New Zealand scoring rate in the death overs by removing a well-set Williamson, Jimmy Neesham and Santner off successive balls in 19th over.

While Williamson was caught in the deep attempting another big hit, Little trapped Neesham and Santner in front of the stumps with two straight deliveries that skidded on.

It was this World Cup’s second hat-trick after UAEs Karthik Meiyappan achieved the feat against Sri Lanka.

The biggest positive for New Zealand was its leader Williamson finding his groove. He struggled for timing initially before changing gears. The skipper brought up his half-century with a flick off pacer Barry McCarthy that went all the way for six over deep midwicket before depositing one in the same region two balls later for another six.

Williamson perished in the 19th over as his pull shot off Little did not get the desired elevation. New Zealand was set to cross 200 but Ireland pegged them back by conceding only 12 runs in the last two overs.

(With agency inputs)

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