Twelfth time unlucky for NZ at World Cup

New Zealand's wait for a maiden World Cup will go on for at least another year, their seven-wicket loss to Pakistan marking the 12th time the Black Caps have reached the final four of a global tournament without a trophy.

With losses in the 2015 and 2019 ODI World Cup finals and last year's T20 decider, New Zealand have been accustomed to heartbreak on the biggest stage but had reason to believe things would be different on Wednesday night.

The Black Caps boasted the best net run-rate of any side at the tournament, lost only once in the Super 12 stage and were playing their semi-final at the SCG, where they had obliterated Australia only two weeks prior.

But recent history counted for little against a Pakistan side that gave the Black Caps a taste of the medicine they served up to the host nation.

"They were too good today and we weren't quite at our best," New Zealand captain Kane Williamson said.

New Zealand won the toss and elected to bat but it took Shaheen Shah Afridi only three balls to do away with Finn Allen, the young opener who masterminded the Black Caps' own fast start against Australia.

Allen survived Shaheen's first chance of dismissing him with a successful review for LBW but the Pakistani swung his next delivery straight into the opener's pads and dispatched him while on four.

The cricket smarts that guided Devon Conway to an unbeaten 92 in New Zealand's tournament opener deserted him when he was sprung trying to sneak in a single.

Shadab Khan, one of Pakistan's best at the World Cup, ran him out with a direct hit from 20 metres away on the final ball of the powerplay.

Tentative after the early loss of Allen and contained well by the Pakistani fielders, New Zealand managed only four boundaries in the powerplay and needed 13 overs to hit a six.

A third T20I half-century to Daryl Mitchell (53 not out) and his 68-run partnership with Williamson were rare highlights for the Black Caps.

"It's always nice to contribute to the team and to do it on a big stage is cool but I play the game to try and win games of cricket," Mitchell said.

"At the moment, I'm pretty gutted to lose."

New Zealand's total of 4-152 appeared slightly under par so the Black Caps could not afford to give Babar Azam an extra life, wicketkeeper Conway dropping him before he had scored.

After a lukewarm run of form in the Super 12 stage, Babar's 53-run haul was his best effort of the tournament and bigger than his other five scores combined.

"I was struggling but today I feel good so I'll continue that momentum in the final," Babar said.

The captain and Mohammad Rizwan (57) each managed half-centuries to edge their side closer to victory and banish New Zealand back to the World Cup wasteland.