Bangalore: Umar Gul's fine spell of seam bowling and opener Imran Nazir's blistering half-century helped Pakistan overwhelm New Zealand by six wickets in the first semi-final of Twenty20 World Cup at Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.
Pakistan chased the required target of 144 runs in 18.5 overs. Skipper Shoaib Malik with 26 and Misbah ul-Haq with 16 saw their side through.
An opening partnership of 60 runs in 7.1 overs between Nazir and Mohd Hafeez set things up for Pakistan. Hafeez hammered 32 off 21 balls with three fours and two sixes but it was Nazir who stole the show.
Batting with a runner, Nazir slammed 59 off 41 balls with five towering sixes and three fours to negate the New Zealand bowling attack.
Jeetan Patel got the breakthrough when he trapped Nazir in front of the stumps, and skipper Daniel Vettori ended Younus Khan's misery, who scratched around for 15 balls, making four runs. Earlier, Hafeez was dismissed LBW by Scott Styris. Shahid Afridi fell tamely to Shane Bond for just six.
Vettori finished with one for 22 in his four overs, Bond took one for 33 in his four while Patel ended up with one for 25 in 3.5 overs. Styris ended up with one for 14 in his three overs.
Earlier, Ross Taylor top-scored for New Zealand with an unbeaten 37 from 23 balls. He smashed paceman Mohammed Asif for 17 in the final over.
After deciding to take the first strike on a rain-marred day – openers Lou Vincent and Brendon McCullum provided Kiwis a fine start. The duo put on 50 in just under eight overs before the debutant Fawad Alam took a brilliant catch off his bowling to dismiss Vincent. Vincent scored 28 runs in as many balls with one hit to the fence and one over it.
However it was Gul who put Kiwis in a spot of bother with double strikes in his second over. Gul sent Scott Styris and Peter Fulton packing to put skid on the New Zealand scoring rate.
Styris fell for 11 after hitting a four and a six and Fulton hit a full toss to skipper Shoaib Malik after making ten.
Next man in Craig McMillan, the man in form, immediately caused some concerns in the Pak camp when he hammered Alam for a straight six and boundary.
However, Alam had the last laugh when he removed McMillan caught on the long-off fence by Younus Khan. He made 12 off six balls. The young left-arm spinner, drafted in at the cost of lackluster Salman Butt, was impressive, returning with figures of two for 29 in his three overs.
Late charge by Ross Taylor (37 off 23) helped Kiwis post a decent 143 in their stipulated 20 overs
Gul bagged three for 15 in his four overs, while Afridi was steady as well, taking one for 24 in his four.