Ireland bowler Joshua Little took a hat-trick but New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson’s 61 guided his side to 185-6 in their bid to seal a semi-finals spot at the Twenty20 World Cup on Friday.
New Zealand were cruising at 174-3 in the 19th over when the left-arm quick removed Williamson, James Neesham and Mitchell Santner on successive balls in Adelaide.
It was the second hat-trick of this edition of the World Cup after Karthik Meiyappan of the United Arab Emirates against Sri Lanka in round one.
Ireland is the only nation to have taken two hat-tricks at a men’s T20 World Cup after Curtis Campher achieved the same feat.
It’s crunch time at the T20 World Cup and you can catch every match live and ad-free in play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
T20 WORLD CUP LIVE: Langer says Aussies can pull of miracle… but only if they embrace key ‘change’
Little’s strikes checked New Zealand’s surge, but Williamson, with his first fifty of this tournament, had already put his team on course for a challenging total.
Daryl Mitchell hit an unbeaten 21-ball 31 and put on a key partnership of 60 with Williamson, who was under scrutiny for his slow batting but smashed five fours and three sixes in his 35-ball knock.
The Black Caps top the Group 1 table with five points and a win will all but confirm their final-four place.
Defending champions Australia, who play the next match of the double header at the Adelaide Oval against Afghanistan, and England are also on five points. But Australia’s net run rate is far inferior.
Finn Allen and Devon Conway started cautiously against a disciplined Irish bowling attack after being invited to bat first on a sunny afternoon.
Allen broke the shackles in the fourth over as he smashed leg-spinner Gareth Delany for three fours including two on consecutive deliveries.
He kept up the charge and hit a six and four off fast bowler Mark Adair before the bowler got him caught at mid-off on the next ball as the Kiwis reached 52-1 at the end of six overs.
The left-handed Conway found it tough to accelerate despite a couple of boundaries but stood in a 44-run stand with Williamson.
New Zealand lost their way in the middle with Delany taking two wickets including Glenn Phillips for 17, but Williamson soon took charge.