New Zealand [ Images ] pushed defending champions Pakistan to the brink of ouster from the Twenty20 [ Images ] World Cup after registering a pulsating one-run win in their crucial Super Eights match in Bridgetown on Saturday.
Chasing 134 to win, Pakistan required 11 runs from the last over but paceman Ian Butler bowled two dot balls and took a wicket off the last ball to emerge hero for the Black Caps.
Salman Butt [ Images ] (67 n.o.) hit boundaries in the second and fourth balls of the 20th over and left Abdur Rehman to score two runs from the final ball after snatching a single from the penultimate ball.
Rehman swung at the last delivery only to agonizingly watch Martin Guptil come under the ball at square leg. The Kiwis were all over Butler who helped them snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
This is for the first time that New Zealand have beaten Pakistan in a Twenty20 international match.
Despite being restricted to a below-par 133 for seven, New Zealand fought tooth and nail and kept themselves in contention of qualifying for the semi-finals.
Like the Kiwis, Pakistan also recovered from a jittery start, they were 58 for five at one stage, to take the match to the wire. But when it mattered most, they floundered.
Having suffered their second successive defeat in the Super Eights, Pakistan are almost out of the tournament and need a miracle of sort to make the last-four stage.
Man-of-the-match Butler had figures of 4-1-19-3, a performance he will relish for the rest of his life.
Even as wickets fell in a heap around him, Salman Butt batted with gumption and poise to remain unconquered with a 67 of 54 balls. He was involved in 53-run association for the sixth-wicket with Abdul Razzaq [ Images ] who made 29.
Earlier, Left arm spinner Abdur Rehman and Mohammad Sami [ Images ] had struck crucial blows to tie down the Kiwis.
Invited to bat, the Kiwis found a batting hero in their skipper Daniel Vettori [ Images ], who made a fighting 38 of 34 balls. Vettori was associated in a crucial 40-run association with Scott Styris [ Images ] (21).
If runs had been bleeding when the fast bowlers in operation, it dried up when Afridi introduced Abdur Rehman (2/19) and Mohammad Hafeez [ Images ] into the attack.
The spin duo barely conceded 30 runs in six overs during the period of Kiwi uncertainty.
The spinner had the Kiwis in a bind, even bottling up the adventurous Brendon McCullum [ Images ], who eventually perished to a slog-sweep off Rehman which was gobbled up by Sami at long leg.
Moments before McCullum (33) perished, Guptill, who scratched around for 10 deliveries, had holed out to Umar Akmal [ Images ] off Rehman. And when Ross Taylor's [ Images ] demised in the 10th over, the writing was on the wall for New Zealand.
The Kiwis wilted as the scoring rate dipped and the pressure mounted in the death overs. Styris, who was castled by Afridi, Hokins, who holed out to Rehman in the deep off Afridi, fell in quick succession.
But in the end, the Kiwis walked away with the honors.