|Pak T20 survival chances grow slimmer |
BRIDGETOWN: Defending champions Pakistan were on the brink of elimination from the World Twenty20 after losing to New Zealand by just one run in a thrilling Super Eights match here on Saturday.
The chances of Pakistan survival in the event grew thinner, as it hinges on some ifs, as Pakistan could win only one match against Bangladesh.
Victory for South Africa over England in Saturday's other Group E match at the Kensington Oval would mean Pakistan no longer had a chance of reaching the semi-finals.
Recalled New Zealand fast bowler Ian Butler took an impressive three wickets for 19 runs as opener Salman Butt, who finished on 67 not out, so nearly saw Pakistan to victory after a top-order collapse.
Pakistan, chasing 134 to win, finished on 132 for seven in reply to the 133 for seven New Zealand made after losing the toss.
The title-holders began the final over, bowled by Butler, needing 11 to win.
Left-hander Butt couldn't make contact with the first ball but slashed the second down to third man for four.
He also missed the third delivery before crashing the fourth through point for another boundary.
Off the fifth ball, Pakistan ran a bye and that left Abdur Rehman, who'd earlier taken two wickets for just 19 runs in his first Twenty20 international for nearly three years, on strike with two needed off the final ball.
Rehman, also a left-hander, made good contact as he swung at a legside delivery from Butler but the ball flew straight to Martin Guptill to spark joyous celebrations amongst the New Zealand team.
The Black Caps, who lost their opening Super Eights match to South Africa as Pakistan went down to England, needed a victory every bit as much as the title-holders to revive their hopes of a semi-final spot.
Pakistan collapsed to 25 for three in the face of hostile fast bowling from Shane Bond and the recalled Kyle Mills.
Man-of-the-match Butler, selected along with Mills after fellow seamers Jacob Oram and Tim Southee were dropped, then struck twice to reduce Pakistan to 58 for five in his first match of the tournament.
Butler had Misbah-ul-Haq lbw for three and then, after digging in a short ball on a lively pitch, saw Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi caught pulling for 11 by a diving Nathan McCullum, running in from deep midwicket.
Replays were not conclusive as to whether the ball had carried but Afridi walked off and the catch stood.
Abdul Razzaq gave Pakistan renewed hope by driving New Zealand captain and left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori for a six and a four off successive balls.
Razzaq then finished a 15th over from Vettori that cost 16 runs with another huge six, this time lofted over deep midwicket, to leave Pakistan in the far more healthy position of 94 for five.
He then failed to connect several times against Bond before flat-batting the bowler for a massive six over long-on that landed on top of the pavilion.
However, when Razzaq holed to off-spinner Nathan McCullum for a 28-ball 29 it meant Pakistan were 111 for six and needed 23 off 13 balls for victory.
That became 22 off two overs and then Butt, giving himself room, drove Mills for a superb six over long-off.
Butt, only one of three batsmen in the Pakistani innings to make it into double figures, faced 54 balls for his undefeated 67, with a six and eight fours.
Vettori led the way for New Zealand with 38. Only opener Brendon McCullum (33) also made it past 30.
Pakistan complete their Super Eights programme against South Africa in St Lucia on Monday, when New Zealand face England.
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