|ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Group 1, Adelaide|
|New Zealand 185-6 (20 overs): Williamson 61 (35); Little 3-22, Delany 2-30|
|Ireland 150-9 (20 overs): Stirling 37 (27); Ferguson 3-22, Santner 2-26|
|New Zealand won by 35 runs|
New Zealand moved closer to a semi-final place at the Men’s T20 World Cup with a 35-run win over Ireland.
They restricted Ireland to 150-9 with pace bowler Lockie Ferguson taking 3-22 and spinners Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi 2-26 and 2-31 respectively.
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.
The Kiwis are top of Group 1 with seven points, having played all their games.
They are not guaranteed of their passage at this stage though because Australia, who play Afghanistan at 08:00 GMT on Friday, and England, who play Sri Lanka at 08:00 GMT on Saturday, are able to overtake them on net run-rate if they win those games.
However, that is unlikely with New Zealand’s net run-rate far superior, meaning they are likely to progress as group winners.
Sri Lanka can also still reach the semi-finals. They first need Afghanistan to beat Australia. Should that happen, a victory over England would see them go through as runners-up to New Zealand.
Ireland are now officially out of the competition, and will either finish fifth or sixth in the group, depending on Afghanistan’s result in their final game.
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.