Daryl Mitchell, James Neesham, Devon Conway take New Zealand to their first ever T20 World Cup finals
New Zealand 167 for 5 in 19 overs (Mitchell 72*, Conway 46, Neesham 27; Livingstone 2/22, Woakes 3/36) defeat England 166 for 4 in 20 overs (Ali 51*, Malan 41; Neesham 1/18, Southee 1/24) by 5 wickets
After their dramatic encounter in their last World Cup encounter, the 2019 ODI World Cup final, England took on the New Zealand side for yet another World Cup battle royale. The two teams clashed in the first semi-final of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 at the Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, November 10.
Touted as title favourites, England were hampered by injuries but they never posed low in confidence as they charged at the Kiwis with ample ammunition. The consistent New Zealand team had also little to be worried about. Nonetheless, the contest promised to be a fiery one.
The wonderfully steady New Zealand team started the match on a high note as Kane Williamson won the crucial toss in Abu Dhabi. Confident of how the dew factor will play its role in the second half of the match, the Kiwi skipper opted to field first.
England lose Jonny Bairstow within Powerplay
Invited to bat first, England started on a lackadaisical note. The first five overs of the powerplay elapsed without a wicket falling. In the opening three overs, pace bowlers Tim Southee and Trent Boult kept a stranglehold on the opposition, which kept the in-form Buttler’s hands tied before he finally unleashed his powers and smashed two consecutive boundaries.
However, England's openers were dismissed a little later, including Jos Buttler, who was bowled for 29 by Ish Sodhi and the promoted Jonny Bairstow (13) was dismissed by Adam Milne, effectively rendering England’s experiment futile. Both the openers returned to the pavilion within nine overs into their innings.
England’s score was 67/2 after 10 overs with two left-handed batters Dawid Malan and Moeen Ali on the crease.
Moeen Ali scored an unbeaten 51* runs
The duo took upon themselves to further sail England’s innings with a cautious yet steady approach. The singles were coming in every over as England’s scoreboard kept ticking with no significant dent to their run-rate. The duo shared 63 runs for the fourth wicket and led the side to the 100-run mark in the 14th over.
However, the partnership was curtailed as Tim Southee returned and dismissed good-looking Dawid Malan in the 16th over. Malan scored 41 runs off 30 deliveries studded with four boundaries and a six. From thereon, Moeen Ali took upon himself to steer the team towards a challenging total with an unbeaten 51 to help England post a competitive tally. With his 37-ball effort, Moeen fought back for England and put another 40-run partnership with Liam Livingstone who scored a quickfire 17 runs off 10 balls.
England posted 166/4 after 20 overs and were 10 wickets away from advancing into the finals.
England bowlers inflict early damages to NZ
Chasing 167 runs, NZ had a traumatic start after Chris Woakes dismissed the in-form opener Martin Guptill at just 4 runs in the first over. The next wicket to fall was of the skipper Kane Williamson who too departed cheaply after scoring 5 runs. His dismissal was brought about by Chris Woakes who chipped in with his second breakthrough and gave his side an early grip. NZ were 13/2 and only managed 36 runs at the end of the powerplay with Daryl Mitchell and Devon Conway in the middle.
Their partnership flourished during the course of the chase and crossed the 50-run mark in the 11th over. After the 50-run stand, they now aimed to go for a 100-run partnership and consolidate the side’s chances of a win. However, that was halted by Liam Livingstone who came and dismissed well-set Devon Conway in the 14th over. Conway scored 46 runs off 38 deliveries and fell short of his fifth half-century in T20Is.
New Zealand were 97/3 after 14 overs and needed 70 more runs off 36 deliveries at a daunting required rate of around 12 runs per over.
Livingstone got his second breakthrough of the game as he dismissed Glenn Phillips cheaply for just 2 runs off 4 deliveries and brought England in the driver’s seat.
Neesham’s power-packed punches leave England stunned
However, the new batter James Neeshan came in with a nothing to lose attitude and played a valorous knock when the asking rate piled over 15 runs per over. Neesham smacked Chris Jordan for 21 runs, who conceded the most expensive 23 runs of the innings including two wides. Neesham marched New Zealand towards victory with a quick-fire 27 runs off 11 deliveries before getting dismissed by Adil Rashid in the 18th over. After his dismissal, NZ needed 20 more runs off the last two overs as the match got closer for both the sides.
Mitchell scored his maiden fifty in T20Is, that too in the semi-finals of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021. After Neesham’s dismissal, he smashed Chris Woakes for a couple of runs, followed by two consecutive sixes and a four and marched his side into the finals of ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 with 5 wickets and an over to spare.
Player of the match
Daryl Mitchell scored a match-winning heroic knock of 72* runs off 47 deliveries laced with four boundaries and as many sixes. He was promoted as an opener in this tournament and he rose to the occasion with his maiden fifty and lifted the player of the match award.
Here are some of the Top Twitter reactions from ENGvsNZ semi-final game: