Pakistan cruise into Twenty20 World Cup final

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CAPE TOWN, Sep 22 (Reuters) A half-century by Imran Nazir and three wickets from paceman Umar Gul helped Pakistan beat New Zealand by six wickets with seven balls to spare today to reach the final of the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup.

Gul was not introduced until the 12th over at Newlands but quickly removed Scott Styris (18), Peter Fulton (10) and Jacob Oram (1) to restrict New Zealand to a modest 143 for eight after electing to bat first.

Opener Nazir, batting with a runner after injuring his leg, then lashed three fours and five sixes in his 41-ball innings of 59 to lead Pakistan to victory.

Nazir put on 60 for the first wicket with Mohammad Hafeez (32).

Pakistan were never behind the asking rate and remained in control throughout the run chase. Captain Shoaib Malik (26 not out) finished the contest in style by hammering off-spinner Jeetan Patel over mid-wicket for six.

''Every captain dreams of taking his team to a world cup final and I feel the same way,'' Malik said.

''We will try to win the final and give this gift to the nation in the holy month of Ramadan which is blessed with showers from the Almighty.'' Earlier, Ross Taylor top-scored for New Zealand with an unbeaten 37 from 23 balls. He smashed paceman Mohammed Asif for 17 in the final over.

Openers Brendan McCullum (26) and Lou Vincent (28) shared a 50-run opening stand before wickets started to fall on a regular basis.

For New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori, it was yet another taste of semi final defeat.

''It's bitterly disappointing - this is the worst I've felt for a long time. It was yet another opportunity to reach the final of a major event and we thought we could win,'' he said.

''We were a lot more relaxed than before several other semi finals but we couldn't get across the line. Unfortunately we're bound to be labelled with the tag of not being able to reach finals,'' Vettori added.

Pakistan will meet Australia or India in Monday's final.

REUTERS AB BD2240

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