A crestfallen New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson said losing the T20 World Cup semifinal was a “tough pill to swallow" but admitted that his team was not disciplined enough to challenge a far-superior Pakistan in Sydney on Wednesday.
New Zealand, last edition’s runners-up, were outclassed in the semifinal by Pakistan, who dished out a clinical show to notch up a comfortable seven-wicket win to sail into their third T20 World Cup final.
“Very disappointing to not make Pakistan work a lot harder. They were outstanding. We were outplayed. It’s a tough pill for us to swallow. Babar (Azam) and (Mohammad) Rizwan put us under pressure," Williamson said during the post-match presentation ceremony.
Pakistan first restricted New Zealand to 152 for four on a slow SCG track and then chased down the target with consummate ease, riding on skipper Babar and Rizwan’s attacking fifties to book their place in the T20 World Cup final after 13 years.
“We were put under pressure early. Pakistan bowled very nicely. We managed to wrestle back some momentum with an unbelievable knock from (Daryl) Mitchell. At the halfway stage we were feeling it was a competitive total. Wicket was a bit tough - used surface," Williamson said.
New Zealand didn’t have the momentum after losing their openers — Finn Allen (4) and Devon Conway (21) — early. Williamson (46) and Mitchell (53) then added 68 runs for the fourth wicket to take them to a decent total.
“If we’re honest, we wanted to be more disciplined in our areas. At the end of the day, Pakistan certainly deserve to be winners. There’s been a lot of good cricket," the Kiwi captain said.
“Throughout the round-robin, we’ve played nicely. Today we weren’t at our best. Having said that, we know the fickle nature of T20 cricket."
Pakistan captain Babar Azam lauded his bowlers for setting up the win.
“The way the team performed in the last three matches….Thanks to the crowd, feels like we are playing at home. We had a good start in the first six overs and later on we had a good spin attack. The fast bowlers also finished very well," said Babar, who scored a 42-ball 53.
“Our plan before going inside was to utilise the first six overs and later on everyone can come and chip in. We will enjoy this moment, but at the same time we will focus on the final."
Rizwan, who was adjudged the Player of the Match for his 43-ball 57, said he and Babar never stopped believing, despite struggling to get runs in the group stages of the ongoing showpiece.
“Luckily, the fifty was in the semifinal. Babar and I were struggling but we worked hard and believed. We kept fighting. When we crossed the boundary line, we decided to take the attack to the new ball bowlers," he said.
“When we finished the powerplay, we knew one of us had to bat deep as it was a tricky pitch. Our start (to the tournament) wasn’t good, but the guys kept believing."
Pakistan will now take on the winner of Thursday’s second semifinal between India and England in the final at Melbourne on Sunday.