Kane Williamson scored a quickfire half-century to help New Zealand beat Ireland by 35 runs in the Twenty20 World Cup semi-finals on Friday.
New Zealand won Group 1 with seven points after their final Super 12 encounter in Adelaide, thanks to Williamson’s 35-ball 61 and their bowlers holding Ireland to 150-9.
In Adelaide, New Zealand were cruising at 174-3 in the 19th over when the left-arm fast dismissed Williamson, James Neesham, and Mitchell Santner on consecutive balls.
It was the second hat-trick of this World Cup, following Karthik Meiyappan’s hat-trick against Sri Lanka in round one.
Little’s strikes slowed New Zealand’s charge, but Williamson’s fifty, his first of the tournament, had already set his team up for a difficult total.
Daryl Mitchell scored an unbeaten 21-ball 31 and shared a crucial 60-run stand with Williamson, who was criticised for his slow batting but smacked five fours and three sixes in his 35-ball innings.
After being invited to bat first, Finn Allen and Devon Conway began cautiously against a disciplined Irish bowling attack.
Allen smacked leg-spinner Gareth Delany for three fours in the fourth over, including two on consecutive deliveries.
He continued his drive, hitting a six and four off fast bowler Mark Adair before being caught at mid-off on the following ball, as the Kiwis reached 52-1 after six overs.
Despite a handful of boundaries, the left-handed Conway struggled to accelerate and ended up in a 44-run stand with Williamson.
New Zealand faltered in the middle, with Delany grabbing two wickets, including Glenn Phillips for 17, but Williamson quickly regained control.
The Irish got off to a flying start with an opening partnership of 68 off 49 balls from Paul Stirling (37) and Andrew Balbirnie (30).
The Irish squad had defeated two-time champions the West Indies in round one and then stunned England in a rain-soaked Super 12 match.
But, from Santner, Balbirnie sliced one on to his stumps, and fellow spinner Ish Sodhi bowled Stirling in the following over, putting an end to Ireland’s aspirations as their chase unravelled.
Lockie Ferguson, the fast bowler, finished with figures of 3-22 after a double strike in his fourth over. Santner, Sodhi, and quick bowler Tim Southee each had two wickets.