Elliott's calm takes Black Caps to final
New Zealand will meet Australia in the ICC Champions Trophy final after an unbeaten half-century from Grant Elliott helped them cruise to a five-wicket victory over Pakistan at the Wanderers.
The all-rounder hit a measured 75 and forged what turned out to be a match-winning 104-run stand with captain Daniel Vettori, who struck 41, as the Black Caps eased past the 234-run target with 13 balls to spare.
It came after the captain and Ian Butler, who took a career-best 4-44, shared seven wickets between them to help restrict the 2009 ICC World Twenty20 winners to 233 for nine in their 50 overs – a total built around Umar Akmal's 55 and Mohammad Yousuf's 45.
However, it proved a below-par score on the surface as New Zealand sealed their place in Monday’s finale at Centurion.
The day did not start off that well, though, with Vettori losing the toss and asked to field first.
Pakistan made a slow start to their innings with Kyle Mills and Shane Bond keeping the attacking opening pair Kamran Akmal and Imran Nazir in check.
They reached just 30 after eight overs, but the introduction of Butler saw the shackles broken with Nazir taking a particular liking to the medium-pacer striking him for three fours in an over that went for 13.
Bond remained disciplined at the other end to eventually send the same batsman on his way for 28 with a rising delivery that was fended straight into the air and Ross Taylor took a simple catch at first slip.
The 50 then came up from 67 balls, but Butler then dealt Pakistan a double blow when he removed Shoaib Malik and Kamran Akmal in consecutive overs leaving Pakistan at 69 for three in the 15th over.
They were in further trouble shortly after when Taylor grabbed his third catch of the innings to send Younus Khan on his way - the captain tried to turn opposite number Vettori onto the leg-side but only succeeded in offering a leading edge to the fielder at short cover.
But Yousuf and Umar Akmal began to rebuild with a steady 50-run stand from 79 balls as they took their side past 150 in the 37th over.
They put on 80 together when the fifth wicket fell - it was that of the former, who chopped Mills on to his stumps to end his 78-ball knock.
That triggered a mini-collapse and, after Umar Akmal brought up his fifty from 58 balls, he was unfortunately given out leg before wicket to Vettori, who snared 3-43, by Simon Taufel despite the ball hitting the bat first.
Shahid Afridi followed, but good lower-order hitting from Mohammad Aamer and Saeed Ajmal helped boost their final total to 233 for nine.
New Zealand made a sensational start to their chase with Brendon McCullum smashing the second delivery bowled by Aamer for six over deep midwicket.
But the left-armer had his revenge in the fifth over when the opener chased a wide delivery and only managed to sky his shot towards deep extra cover – Afridi holding a good chance to send the batsman on his way for 17.
Umar Gul was then introduced to replace the expensive Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and struck first ball when Martin Guptill played a poor attempted pull shot and was caught at mid-on.
Aaron Redmond and Taylor took their side past 50 in the 12th over, before the former was caught and bowled by Saeed Ajmal, who took 2-39, leaving the Black Caps on 71 for three.
A half-century stand between Taylor and Elliott helped keep their side on track, but again the loss of a wicket handed Pakistan the initiative.
Taylor went this time, one ball after bringing up the 50 from 85 balls, when he played on from Afridi for 38.
Then came a decisive moment in the game with Younus dropping a gentle lob that was pushed straight into his hands by Elliott.
At that stage, the batsman was on 42 with New Zealand still needing 69 from 65 balls.
They took the final powerplay in the 43rd over and never looked back with Elliott going on to share another fifty partnership, this time with Daniel Vettori, before his own half-century was brought up in 90 balls.