New Zealand thrashed England by five wickets in the first semifinal of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 on Wednesday at Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, storming into the final.
Daryl Mitchell led the innings with an unbeaten 72 off 47 balls, while Devon Conway hit a 38-ball 46 to help the team reach 167. James Neesham hammered 27 off 11 balls and was instrumental in the chase.
With this victory, New Zealand advanced to the 2019 ODI World Cup final, the inaugural WTC winner, and its first T20WC final! It’s incredible how these guys manage to fly under the radar before each competition.
The batting order had not performed well in the Super12s, and when the hour came, the big guys stood out. After losing NZ’s top players Guptill and Williamson early in the game, Conway and Mitchell hung in there for the opening hour. Morgan’s bowlers were influential until the 13th over, when the runs started to flow more freely. Jimmy Neesham’s game-changing knock came on the heels of Livingstone’s two-wicket haul, which seemed to have done the job for England. Mitchell finally shook off the cobwebs in the penultimate lap, punching the seamers for a series of spellbinding sixes over the fence.
In 2017, James Neesham considered retiring. He didn’t do it. Daryl Mitchell has never contemplated batting first. Yes, he did. Together, they dragged a New Zealand team adamantly about not losing into the T20 World Cup final.
It was total craziness. And it seemed to appear out of nowhere. England had the game in their hands, just as they had five years ago on a dazzling night in Kolkata. And it was taken away from them by not one but two big-hitting all-rounders.