Wednesday, December 7, 2022

New Zealand hammer Ireland to reach T20 World Cup semis

New Zealand hammer Ireland to reach T20 World Cup semis

ADELAIDE, Australia (AFP) - Skipper Kane Williamson hit a quickfire half-century to all but take New Zealand into the Twenty20 World Cup semi-finals as they hammered Ireland by 35 runs on Friday.

Williamson's 35-ball 61 propelled New Zealand to 185-6 and their bowlers kept Ireland down to 150-9 to top Group 1 with seven points after their final Super 12 match in Adelaide.

The captain led from the front, having failed to convert starts in the earlier matches, as New Zealand dominated on a sunny afternoon despite a stunning hat-trick by Ireland fast bowler Joshua Little.

New Zealand were cruising at 174-3 in the 19th over when the left-arm quick removed Williamson, James Neesham and Mitchell Santner on successive balls.

It was the second hat-trick of this edition of the World Cup after Karthik Meiyappan of the United Arab Emirates against Sri Lanka in round one.

Little's strikes checked New Zealand's surge, but Williamson, with his first fifty of this tournament, had already put his team on course for a challenging total.

Daryl Mitchell hit an unbeaten 21-ball 31 and put on a key partnership of 60 with Williamson, who was under scrutiny for his slow batting but smashed five fours and three sixes in his 35-ball knock. Finn Allen and Devon Conway started cautiously against a disciplined Irish bowling attack after being invited to bat first.

Allen broke the shackles in the fourth over as he smashed leg-spinner Gareth Delany for three fours including two on consecutive deliveries. He kept up the charge and hit a six and four off fast bowler Mark Adair before the bowler got him caught at mid-off on the next ball as the Kiwis reached 52-1 at the end of six overs.

The left-handed Conway found it tough to accelerate despite a couple of boundaries but stood in a 44-run stand with Williamson. New Zealand lost their way in the middle with Delany taking two wickets including Glenn Phillips for 17, but Williamson soon took charge.

In the second tie, Glenn Maxwell hit an unbeaten half-century to keep Australia in the hunt for the semi-finals with a tense four-run win over Afghanistan. The hosts and defending champions now need arch-rivals England to lose their final Super 12 match against Sri Lanka on Saturday to make the semis.

The result ensured New Zealand, who outplayed Ireland in the first match of the day at the Adelaide Oval, booked their final-four spot from Group 1.