Super Gul sees off New Zealand
Umar Gul recorded the best figures in international Twenty20 history as Pakistan thrashed New Zealand at The Oval.
The Black Caps were bowled out for just 99 and the six-wicket victory was comprehensive enough to put Pakistan in a strong position to qualify for the semi-finals of the ICC World Twenty20.
They got home in 13.1 overs after teenage debutant Shahzaib Hasan launched them towards their target with an eye-catching 35.
Paceman Gul’s incredible 5-6 capped a superb bowling display from Pakistan in what was a must-win Super Eights contest.
Younus Khan’s men now have a net run-rate only marginally inferior to that of the Kiwis, and with minnows Ireland left to play are in the box seat for qualification from Group F.
New Zealand, meanwhile, face Sri Lanka in their final match knowing even victory might not be enough to progress.
The Kiwis were already struggling on 72 for four when Gul was brought into the action.
The first of his five wickets came when Shahid Afridi produced one of the catches of the tournament, haring 40 yards at full pelt to clutch a steepler from top-scorer Scott Styris over his shoulder narrowly short of the long-on boundary.
Peter McGlashan was lbw after charging a full swinging delivery later in the same over, and changing to the Pavilion End did not alter the flow of wickets as Gul cut through New Zealand.
Nathan McCullum and James Franklin were bowled while Ian Butler chipped his first delivery straight to extra cover.
In the process, Gul, already the most prolific bowler in international Twenty20s, became the first man to take five wickets in an innings and the leading wicket-taker in this tournament with 10.
The reintroduction of Abdul Razzaq into the Pakistan side, after he relinquished ties with an unofficial cricket league, was also crucial and gave Pakistan an obvious lift from the start.
The all-rounder took the new ball and claimed two of the three wickets to fall in the powerplay period to address a poor start which had seen Mohammad Aamir’s first over leak 14 runs.
It was a torrid entrance for New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori, who opted to set a score in his first game of the tournament.
Left-arm spinner Vettori missed New Zealand’s previous three matches with a shoulder injury but displaced Neil Broom in the team.
His presence in the New Zealand attack at least held up the charge to Pakistan’s 100-run target as he claimed two of the four wickets to fall.
However, they struggled for breakthroughs in the opening six overs of fielding restrictions and had only the dismissal of Kamran Akmal - caught at deep square-leg, pulling - to show for their efforts.
Three wickets in as many overs - including the smart run-out of Shahzaib by Brendon McCullum - becalmed the scoring rate after an initial pace of nine runs per over.
Shahzaib, drafted in alongside Razzaq as Pakistan attempted to freshen things up after defeat to Sri Lanka yesterday, showcased his raw talent with an array of wristy strokes.
His first international runs came via a top-edged four from a free hit which pitched in front of the rope at fine-leg, but he then showed some fine clean striking.
Vettori was lofted for a straight six and Butler delicately upper-cut for another maximum in an over which cost 14.