New Zealand became the likeliest side to become the first side to reach the T20 World Cup semifinal after their 35 runs win over a spirited Ireland side at the Adelaide Oval.
Chasing 186 runs for the win, Ireland gave the Kiwis a mighty scare early in the chase with Paul Stirling and Andrew Balbirnie looking comfortable before the spinners kicked the wheels off the chase to help Ireland stay at 150/9.
Asked to bat first, New Zealand relied on contributions from every top-order batter to put 185 runs on the board.
Finn Allen (32 off 18), Devon Conway (28 off 33), Kane Williamson (61 off 35), Glenn Phillips (17 off 9) and Daryl Mitchell (31 off 21) were the major run-getters to set their side on the path towards a huge score before Josh Little’s hat-trick pulled things back for the Irish.
Little removed Williamson (caught), Jimmy Neesham (LBW) and Mitchell Santner (LBW) in the 19th over to become the second player to take a hat trick at this world cup.
In reply, Paul Stirling (37 off 27) and captain Andrew Balbirnie (30 off 25) batted fearlessly against the famed bowling attack of Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson racing to 68 from 8 overs.
However, their chase was quickly derailed by the spin duo of Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi who removed Balbirine and Stirling, respectively, in successive overs.
With their momentum broken, Ireland could not find their way back into the game as regular wickets became the theme from there on out.
George Dockrell (23 off 15) landed some late blows but his side could only manage 150/9 from their 20 overs.
Lockie Ferguson finished with 3/22 with Santner, Sodhi and Southee taking two wickets each.
The win over Ireland makes New Zealand the betting favourites to take one of the two semifinal spots in Group 1 due to their superior net run rate but their place cannot be confirmed until Australia and England complete their matches.
Ireland, meanwhile, can head home with their heads held high, having completed one of the most improbable upsets in cricket with their win over England.