Mitchell, Neesham’s stunning assault powers New Zealand into maiden T20 World Cup final

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10 Nov 2021 | 05:51 PM
authorcricket.com staff

Mitchell, Neesham’s stunning assault powers New Zealand into maiden T20 World Cup final

The Kiwis remarkably scored 57 off just 3 overs to enter the T20 World Cup final for the first time in their history

New Zealand avenged defeat in the 2019 World Cup final in the most stunning fashion imaginable as sensational knocks from Daryl Mitchell and Jimmy Neesham powered the Kiwis into their maiden T20 World Cup Final. Chasing 167, the BlackCaps needed 57 off the final 4 overs with just six wickets in hand, but in what was one of the greatest assaults in T20 World Cup history, the Kiwis got over the line with an over to spare thanks to some monstrous hitting from the pair of Neesham and Mitchell. They will now take on either Australia or Pakistan in Sunday’s final.

England get off to middling start after being put into bat

For only the second time in this World Cup, Eoin Morgan lost the toss, and it meant that England’s ‘makeshift’ opening pair walked out to bat. The problem for the Kiwis, though, was that the ‘makeshift’ pairing was still a pretty darn good one: Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow. 

But despite the prospect of Buttler and Bairstow opening the batting being a daunting one on paper, it was, surprisingly, the Kiwis who dictated terms up-front. Under lights in Abu Dhabi, both Trent Boult and Tim Southee got the ball moving and after 3 overs, 13 could all England post. Rarely was there a loose ball in the first three.

There was, however, a loose over by Boult in the fourth, and Buttler took full advantage. Buttler smashed back-to-back boundaries of overpitched deliveries in the first two balls, and that forced Boult to go short and concede 5 wides. 13/0 became 29/0 in no time, and another 8-run over from Southee took England to 37/0 in 5. For the first time in the match, the Three Lions looked like they had the upper hand.

But this passage of dominance didn’t last long as New Zealand came storming back.

Adam Milne, in the final powerplay over, on his first ball, removed Bairstow thanks to a stunning catch from Kane Williamson at mid-off, and Buttler perished two overs later trying to reverse-sweep Ish Sodhi. Buttler missed the reverse altogether, and Sodhi trapped him plumb in front. England, all of a sudden, from 37/0 in 5, were 53/2 in 8.1. 

The first half of the innings was rounded-off with a couple of boundaries from the bat of Dawid Malan, but the Kiwis still entered the halfway mark as the happier of two sides, with England managing to reach just 67/2. 

Moeen, Malan and Livingstone take England to 166 

The second half of the innings started in delightful fashion for England. And surprisingly, it was Malan who was on the charge. The southpaw, who had gotten his eye in, creamed a couple of exquisite extra-cover drives off the bowling of Glenn Phillips to not just get himself going, but also inject some much-needed momentum into the England innings. His partner, Moeen, uncharacteristically struggled to time the ball, but Malan looked like he was in for a big knock. Those two fours gave him the confidence he needed, and in the blink of an eye he was on 36 off just 28 balls.

However, after depositing Tim Southee into the mid-wicket stand, the southpaw perished trying to up the ante. He went for another hack through the on-side, but a tickle to the keeper saw him walk back to the pavilion.

The dismissal brought in Liam Livingstone, who was not at his explosive best but still managed to score 17 off the 10 balls he faced, the highlight being a straight six off Milne. He was dismissed in the final over by Neesham, who bowled a pretty tidy 20th over. 

The top-scorer for England was Moeen, who struck only his third over T20I fifty, but despite playing a solid hand, Moeen could just not find the timing - till the very end. Three fours and two sixes was all he managed across the 37 balls he faced, and England did not get the final flourish they were hoping for.

Still, the Three Lions hit 99 off the final 10 overs to finish on 166/4. 

Mitchell and Conway rebuild after England rock New Zealand with early strikes

Chasing 167 was always going to be tough, but in pursuit of the target, New Zealand got off to a horror start. Martin Guptill, their key weapon up top, started off the chase in dream fashion, smashing Chris Woakes for a boundary on the first ball, but then perished just two balls later after a leading-edge found the hands of mid-on. In walked Williamson at No.3, but he had a forgettable stay as after struggling for 10 balls, he scooped his 11th straight to the hands of Adil Rashid at short fine-leg.

At 18/2 after 4, New Zealand were absolutely going nowhere.

A rebuild was what they desperately needed and to their relief, it was provided by the duo of Daryl Mitchell and Devon Conway.  Mitchell and Conway did not take risks or counterpunch, but the duo still found a way to keep the runs flowing. They found the odd boundary, and ran hard between the wickets to ensure that they did not get bogged down. The final six overs of the first phase yielded 40 runs and New Zealand went into the halfway stage at 58/2, still needing 109 to win. 

No English bowler put a foot wrong, and the pick was undoubtedly Chris Woakes. In helpful conditions, Woakes bowled three up-front, and conceded just 16 runs whilst taking the big wicket of Guptill.

Stunning Neesham, Mitchell assault powers New Zealand into maiden T20 World Cup final

Devon Conway and Daryl Mitchell did a fine rebuild job, but when Conway perished, in the 14th over, the game looked like it was drifting away from New Zealand. And when Liam Livingstone bowled the 16th over where he removed Glenn Phillips and conceded just three runs, England looked like they’d the game won. New Zealand needed 57 off the final 4, and they only had one more recognized batsman to come. Sure Santner could hold a bat, but it seemed unrealistic to expect him and the other bowlers to knock off nearly 15 runs per over.

As it turned out, they didn’t need to. For Jimmy Neesham played one of the greatest T20 cameos of all time, while Daryl Mitchell took the Kiwis over the line in ice-cold fashion that would have made any all-time-great in the sport proud. 

Neesham had no time to get his eye in, but remarkably he didn’t need any. He smashed 23 runs off the 17th over bowled by Jordan, and it turned the game on its head. The over had a lot of drama, including Bairstow replicating Boult from the 2019 WC Final by stepping on the rope, but Neesham displayed batting from another universe.

Neesham perished in the next over after thrwarting Rashid for one more six, but by then, the equation had come down to 20 off 12 from 57 off 24.

And that is where Daryl Mitchell stepped in. Having faced over 40 balls, and having got the hang of the Abu Dhabi wicket, Mitchell, from 46* off 40, smashed 26 off his next 7 balls to take New Zealand over the line.

Almost fittingly, it was he who hit the winning runs as a Chris Woakes full-toss was dispatched to the fine-leg boundary.

And with that four, New Zealand marched towards their maiden T20 World Cup final. 

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England vs New ZealandICC World Twenty20, 2021EnglandNew ZealandKane WilliamsonJos ButtlerMoeen AliDawid MalanLiam LivingstoneDaryl MitchellJames NeeshamDevon Conway

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