Elliott helps Kiwis beat Pakistan by 5 wickets

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/e/elliott-ct1.jpg' class='caption'> Grant Elliott's efficient 75 fetched New Zealand the Champions Trophy final berth against Australia as they dumped Pakistan by 5 wickets in their semi-fina

Updated: October 04, 2009 17:21 IST
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Grant Elliot hit a masterly unbeaten 75 as New Zealand sneaked into the final of the ICC Champions Trophy, upsetting the Pakistani applecart by five wickets in the see-saw second semifinal match here on Saturday.

Chasing 234 to book a berth in Monday's final against Australia, New Zealand fumbled as Aaron Redmond (31) and Ross Taylor (38) failed to convert the starts before Grant Elliot (75 not out off 103 balls) played a heroic knock in company of his captain Daniel Vettori (41 off 42 balls) to help them reach 234 for five in 47.5 overs.

Earlier, Umar Akmal (55) and Mohammad Yousuf (45) had starred in a 80-run stand for the fifth wicket and Mohammad Aamer (19) and Saed Ajmal (14) added 35 runs off 34 balls for the last wicket to help Pakistan to a modest 233 for nine.

For New Zealand, Ian Butler (4/44) and captain Daniel Vettori (3/43) shared seven wickets between them.

New Zealand's chase got off to an eventful start with Brendon McCullum (17) depositing the second ball in the stands before Aamer returned to settle score in the fifth over as a tumbling Shahid Afridi took the skier.

Martin Guptill (11) promised to continue his good nick with a pulled six of Naved-ul Hassan but his stay was cut short as Umar Gul's first delivery proved a wicket-taking one. Redmond and Taylor did their best to stabilise New Zealand's chase but both fell just when their team needed them most.

Redmond offered a simple catch to bowler Ajmal while Afridi castled Taylor.

Elliot and Vettori then joined hands to steady the ship and they played sensibly to frustrate the Pakistanis.

Earlier, Pakistan's dysfunctional top order had left them precariously poised at 86 for four inside 21 overs before Yousuf's (45) experience and Akmal's (55) aggression put them back on track with an 80-run stand for the fifth wicket.

But once the duo departed, Pakistan lower order crumbled and it was Aamer's unbeaten 35-run stand off 34 balls with Ajmal for the last wicket that lent some respectability to Pakistan's score.

It did not exactly rain fours and sixes right from the word go but the 46 runs put together by Imran Nazir (28) and Kamran Akmal (24) in nine-odd overs meant Pakistan were off to sedate, if not spectacular, start without early setbacks.

Pakistan captain Younus Khan, however, was soon left to introspect his decision of batting first as the next 40 runs cost the side its top four batsmen, including the skipper himself.

Nazir had warmed up with three fours off an Ian Butler over before a Shane Bond snorter did him in. Butler then dealt two quick blows that had the Pakistan top order reeling.

The lanky Kiwi pacer had Shoaib Malik caught in the slips in his third over and then returned to see the back of Akmal just when the batsman was looking dangerous.

At 69 for three, things were not looking rosy and Pakistan needed a captain's knock from Younus but today was not his day.

His opposite number Daniel Vettori had flighted it on the off-stump, Younus wanted to work it to the onside but all he managed was a leading edge and Ross Taylor pouched the dolly at short cover.

Yousuf is not new to such crisis and he decided to haul Pakistan out of the hole in company of Akmal. The caution, however, meant that boundaries were not easy to come by.

It was at this stage that Akmal decided to play the aggressor's role, leaving grafting to his senior partner Yousuf.

The right-hander went after Vettori, hitting the Kiwi skipper for successive boundaries on two occasions to keep the scoreboard ticking.

Yousuf fell five-run shy of his half-century when Kyle Mills castled him and while Akmal did notch up his second fifty, the youngster fell to Vettori two overs later, trigging another batting collapse.

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