On the brink of elimination

Afp May 09, 2010

BRIDGETOWN: Defending champions Pakistan were almost out of the 2010 World Twenty20 after losing to New Zealand by just one run in a thrilling Super Eights match.

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, 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. Off the fifth ball, Pakistan ran a bye and that left Abdur Rehman, who had 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 leg-side 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 Eight match to South Africa as Pakistan went down to England, needed a victory every bit as much as the titleholders to revive their hopes of a semi-final spot.

Normal batting collapse

Pakistan collapsed to 25 for three in the face of hostile fast bowling from Shane Bond and the recalled Kyle Mills. Manof- the-match Butler struck twice to reduce Pakistan to 58 for five in his first match of the tournament. Butler had Misbahul Haq legbefore for three and Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi caught for 11.

Replays were not conclusive as to whether the ball had carried but Afridi walked off and the catch stood. 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. Pakistan complete their Super Eights programme against South Africa in St Lucia on Monday, when New Zealand face England.

Butt, the lone survivor

Butt, Pakistan’s leading runscorer in the tournament with 189 runs, paid his due, with another crucial innings, providing the anchor role to his aggressive partners and when they departed, the opener took it upon himself to carry the team but was left stranded in the end with a final-ball dismissal.

Spinner’s first match

Abdur Rehman, a late inclusion for the World Twenty20, played his first game in the competition and impressed. The left-arm spinner finished with two for 19 in his third Twenty20 international but was left to rue a flick that carried to the fielder when two runs were required off the last ball.

Butler’s winning comeback

Whenever Pakistan came back in the game, it was Butler – playing his first game of the World Twenty20 – who pegged them back. Vettori had much confidence in him and chose him to bowl the final over when 11 were required. And Butler ensured Pakistan did not get across the finish line.