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Pakistan ease into the Final
22 Sep 2007
By: Paul Wood

Pakistan chased down New Zealand's modest total of 143, with more than an over to spare.

It was the same duo that saw them home against Australia, but the platform had already been set by Imran Nazir and Mohammad Hafeez, whose opening partnership of 60 ensured Pakistan were always in command.

In terms of the teams selections, Pakistan were buoyed when Mohammad Asif was passed fit to play, the only player missing was Salman Butt, he was replaced by Fawad Alam.

For New Zealand, Jeetan Patel was favoured on a pitch that looked like it may take some turn, and Chris Martin was the man to miss out. Also, Peter Fulton returned to the side at the expense of Nathan McCullum.

There were dark clouds around at the beginning of play, this following Daniel Vettori's decision to have a bat, and play only lasted 6.2 overs before the players were forced to return to the changing rooms. New Zealand had made a decent start, reaching 44-0, but will not have been too impressed by the enforced break, it came at a time when Brendon McCullum and Lou Vincent were getting set, and looking to up the run rate.

Asif bowled in good areas, and made life difficult for the Kiwi openers, not allowing them too many occasions to tee off and free their arms. Only four boundaries came during the first six powerplay overs.

Unfortunately for New Zealand, the break interrupted any fluency that was gathering, Fawad Alam removed Lou Vincent in his first over with a smart return catch, and McCullum also went a couple of overs later attempting to sweep Shahid Afridi.

From this stage on, New Zealand continued to lose wickets at a regular rate, integrated with the odd lusty blow.

Scott Styris had pulled Alam for a six in front of square, but could not make much more of a telling contribution, he was caught in the deep by Sohail Tanvir, attempting an expansive drive over the top off the ever impressive Umar Gul.

Pakistan have regularly used Gul in the second half of the innings, and allowed him to bowl his four overs unchanged. His variety of short balls and yorkers, has been clever, and very few batsmen have been able to counter Gul's accuracy.

After removing Styris, Gul then removed Fulton two balls later, the Kiwi offered a comfortable chance to Shoaib Malik in covers.

Craig McMillan had come in with only 6.3 overs remaining, this is the man that has done so much damage for New Zealand, but now felt the pressure to rescue his side to a reasonable total immediately.

He stayed long enough to work Gul for a four, then smash Alam over long off for a six. However, Alam enjoyed the last word dismissing him two balls later with McMillan attempting another big shot over long off, but this time failed to get the distance.

Jacob Oram was caught behind going for huge slash over the off side, that gave Gul his third wicket, and he finished with the highly commendable figures of 3-15 off four overs.

New Zealand are invariable good runners between the wickets, but communication was the cause for the fall of the next two wickets. Both Daniel Vettori and Shane Bond sacrificed their wickets after mix-ups with Ross Taylor.

Taylor redeemed himself to a degree, when he took Asif for 17 in the final over of the innings. But a total of 143 always looked as though it was going to be some way short of testing this Pakistani line up.

What New Zealand needed to have any chance was early wickets, and Pakistan have had a tendency to gift sides such luxuries in previous games.

This time was different, as Imran Nazir's shot selection was much improved, and Hafeez once again looked in good nick. They completed their highest opening partnership of the tournament when they reached 60 without loss, off seven overs.

They were always ahead of the run rate, which eased any pressure on the incoming batsmen.

Nazir had called for a runner very early on in his innings, and if it was an injury from a previous game, Vettori was very sporting in allowing him one here.

Nazir rode his luck, batting in the style he does, he will need a degree of luck to make a big score. He flashed at a drive early that went between McCullum and Styris in first slip.

It was Hafeez with the big shots early, spanking Bond for a six over mid wicket, before hitting Mark Gillespie back over his head for another maximum in the following over.

Then Nazir joined in, skipping down the track to flick Vettori over cow corner for another half a dozen.

Styris came into the attack and made an immediate impression, offering the Kiwi's some feint hope, when Hafeez was adjudged, correctly so, lbw for 32.

Younis Khan joined Nazir, but was content to watch the young entertainer from the non-strikers end.

Further sixes ensued for Nazir, Vettori and Styris disappeared over long off, and Oram suffered two more in consecutive deliveries, the first being a touch more conventional over long on to bring up his fifty off 38 balls. His second was a top edge over McCullums head.

Ross Taylor's guilt will have grown as the Oram over progressed, he had a comfortable opportunity to dismiss Nazir with Oram's first ball, instead he dropped him at long off, as he has done surprisingly frequently during this tournament.

Jeetan Patel finally removed Nazir, when he wrapped him on the pads going for a sweep.

Younis Khan and Shahid Afridi both fell cheaply, and New Zealand had a slight sniff of rescuing this game. However, Misbah-ul-Haq and captain Shoaib Malik forged another intelligent partnership, and saw Pakistan home with a certain amount of ease. Malik hammered a six off Patel to finish the game in style.

New Zealand had under performed with the bat, been sloppy at times in the field, and were a touch too inconsistent with the ball, barring Daniel Vettori who has been one of the pick of the bowlers throughout the tournament.

Pakistan were deserved victors, and will watch on eagerly the second semi-final. They have already beaten Australia in the competition, and a potential meeting with India with whet the appetite for all concerned.

New Zealand 143-8 (20 overs)
Ross Taylor 38*
Umar Gul 3-15, Fawad Alam 2-29

Pakistan 147-4 (18.5 overs)
Imran Nazir 59, Mohammad Hafeez 32
Scott Styris 1-14, Daniel Vettori 1-22

Pakistan win by 6 wickets
Cricket Web Man of the Match : Umar Gul

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