Runs for Williamson as New Zealand into World T20 semi-final


New Zealand became the first team to reach the Men’s T20 World Cup semi-finals with a 35-run win over Ireland, combined with Australia’s margin of victory over Afghanistan in Adelaide.

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson top-scored with 61 off 35 balls as they posted 185-6, while Josh Little took a hat-trick for Ireland in the 19th over.

They then restricted Ireland to 150-9, with Lockie Ferguson taking 3-22.

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England will join New Zealand with a win over Sri Lanka on Saturday.

A defeat or washout would see defending champions Australia, who beat Afghanistan by four runs, progress to the last four.

Ireland will finish fifth in the group, meaning they will still have to qualify for the next T20 World Cup in 2025, with only the top four sides in each group guaranteed a place at that tournament.

It has been an impressive campaign from Andrew Balbirnie’s side, who beat West Indies in the initial qualifying stage and then England in the Super 12s.

Consistent Kiwis deliver despite Little burst

New Zealand are a well-drilled side, who regularly perform to their strengths, and this was another fine example as their impressive campaign continued.

Their openers Finn Allen and Devon Conway struggled for fluency initially, but they were patient and gave Williamson a platform that he pounced upon.

Williamson had come under criticism in the tournament for his scoring rate – he scored 71 runs off 76 balls in their first three games – but he played superbly, demonstrating power as he hit three massive leg-side sixes.

He was helped by some wayward and sloppy Ireland bowling, and that was only halted by Little, whose reputation is growing with every game that he plays.

The 23-year-old was picked up by Manchester Originals half way through The Hundred, and took tournament-best figures of 5-13 against Oval Invincibles, as he took 13 wickets in five games to help his side to the final.

That form has continued into the World Cup and he finishes with 11 wickets from seven games, but perhaps most impressively a cumulative 7-59 in matches against England, Australia and New Zealand.

He had Williamson caught at deep square leg to start his hat-trick, before getting Jimmy Neesham and Mitchell Santner lbw with fast balls that were both going on to hit middle stump.

That form has already seen him earn a contract in the newly-formed South Africa T20 League, which launches in January, and is likely to result in him attracting interest from other leagues.

Ireland’s chase started well with Balbirnie and Paul Stirling leading them to 68-0, but once the former dragged Santner on the chase fell apart.

They slipped to 73-3 and then 120-6 as the spin duo of Santner and Sodhi tied Ireland down and that led to wickets.

Despite ending in slightly disappointing fashion it has been a positive campaign for Ireland, with Little, and wicketkeeper-batter Lorcan Tucker, who scored 204 runs in seven games, the standouts. (BBC Sport)

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