ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Daryl Mitchell and James Neesham powered New Zealand to a stunning five-wicket victory with an over to spare against England on Wednesday, helping the Black Caps advance to their first Twenty20 Cricket World Cup final.
Needing 57 off the last four overs, Neesham clobbered 26 off just 10 balls before Mitchell anchored New Zealand to 167-5 with an unbeaten 73 off 48 balls.
England, which had posted 166-4 on the back of Moeen Ali’s unbeaten 51 off 37, seemed in control until Chris Jordan returned to bowl the 17th over. Then New Zealand, which won the inaugural World Test Championship in June, turned the tables on the 50-over World Cup champions.
“We had wickets in hand which was really important,” New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson said. “Neesham came out and hit the ball hard, changed the momentum of the game.”
Neesham hammered the fast bowler for two sixes and a four in an over which went for 23 runs. Then he and Mitchell each hit legspinner Adil Rashid for a six in the following over.
England got back into contention when captain Eoin Morgan caught Neesham off Rasheed, but Mitchell thumped Chris Woakes (2-36) for two sixes before raising the victory with a flicked four to fine leg.
For the New Zealanders, it was a measure of revenge for a runner-up finish in the 50-over World Cup in England in 2019. The final between England and New Zealand finished in a tie — with some critics questioning an umpiring decision which potentially cost the Blacks Caps a victory — then the teams couldn't be split in a Super Over tiebreaker. England was awarded the World Cup on a countback determined by the number of boundaries hit.
Now the New Zealanders are potentially one win away, again, from capturing their first major limited-overs prize.
The final is Sunday, with New Zealand set to play the winner of Thursday’s semifinal match between Australia and Pakistan.
On Wednesday, Mitchell struggled to play his shots early on a sluggish wicket, but he hung in with Devon Conway (46) in a crucial 82-run stand before anchoring the chase in style with Neesham.
“A bit of a whirlwind, nice to get the job done and move on to the big dance,” Neesham said, acknowledging his father in the crowd. “We knew we needed one or two big overs … for my dad to travel halfway round the world and be here is pretty cool.”
Woakes had made early inroads in his first two overs when he dismissed Martin Guptill and Williamson as New Zealand slipped to 2-13.
England didn’t allow Mitchell and Conway to score freely, with Liam Livingstone (2-22) bowling an impressive spell in the middle overs and getting the wickets of Conway and Glenn Phillips.
But Neesham’s clean hitting followed by Mitchell’s superb finishing denied England a second successive appearance in the final.
Earlier, after being put in to bat, England missed the injured batter Jason Roy up front. In-form Jos Buttler (29) looked to settle for another big knock but played an extravagant reverse sweep against Ish Sodhi and was adjudged lbw in the ninth over.
Wicketkeeper Conway dropped a low catch on his left which could have dismissed Dawid Malan (41) on 10 in the next over before the left-hander went on to add a combined 63 runs with Ali.
But New Zealand’s pace spearhead Tim Southee (1-24) broke the stand when he had Malan caught behind off an inside edge as England struggled to find boundaries in the last five overs.
“Full credit to Kane and his team, they outplayed us today,” Morgan said. “I can’t fault anything that we’ve done tonight. We’ve fought hard and represented ourselves well, but come up short tonight.”
Morgan, who led England to the top of Group 1 in the Super 12 stage with four wins from five games, complimented the efforts of Neesham while lamenting the fact that his team couldn’t hit big shots in the late overs.
“We posted a par score and felt in the game at the halfway," he said. "To have the ability to hit sixes from ball one (like Neesham), full credit to him.”
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