A beaming Daryl Mitchell hailed a ‘special feeling’ after steering his side into their first ICC Men’s T20 World Cup final.
Mitchell’s unbeaten 72 from 47 deliveries anchored the Black Caps’ successful chase of 167, with the opener hitting the winning runs from the final ball of the 19th over having stepped on the accelerator at the death.
New Zealand will now prepare for their third ICC final in as many years across three different formats, a record Mitchell was proud to have contributed towards with his memorable knock in Abu Dhabi.
“Any game you win for your country is pretty special, let alone a World Cup semi,” he said.
“It’s obviously a great honour to represent my country at a World Cup – if you said this five, six years ago I would have laughed at you, so to be here sitting right now is awesome.
“It’s nice to get us over the line but we’ve got another big one coming up in a few days we’re pretty excited about.
“It’s a bit of a blur but I imagine it was a hell of a game to watch. It’s a game of inches, that’s for sure. A couple of those sixes could have been a metre shorter and we might have been all out.
“But we knew if we kept it within certain numbers, we had a chance. It never felt like it was out of our grasp, especially with the smaller boundary on one side.
“We’re a bunch of Kiwis, there are only five million of us so we’re very proud to be representing our country.
“We’ll enjoy the win tonight but we’ll move on pretty quickly. Whoever we’re taking on, we’ll have fun.”
Mitchell also hailed the impact of Jimmy Neesham, whose 26 from ten balls changed the tide of a dramatic last four encounter.
The 17th over, which brought 23, proved particularly pivotal – New Zealand having required 57 from 24 balls prior to it – and Mitchell was swiftly clearing the ropes himself as he moved through the gears, hitting two sixes off a previously miserly Chris Woakes in the over which sealed the deal.
“The way Jimmy came out and struck the ball from ball one was pretty special and gave us the momentum for the final few overs,” he said.
“Once the rate gets up to that height, you try and make sure you get your match-ups that work for you and hit it as far as you can. It was nice to get a few out the middle, it was a struggle in the middle overs.”
England skipper Eoin Morgan confessed to a feeling of ‘devastation’ after seeing his side relinquish a position of relative control.
Morgan’s men made a dream start with the ball, Woakes dismissing Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson early, and Liam Livingstone’s two for 22 helped put the brakes on further until Neesham and Mitchell’s momentum shift.
“We’re devastated,” said Morgan, whose side were looking to become the first to hold both white-ball ICC World Cups at the same time.
“To be on the wrong side of a close game is not easy to take. We fought unbelievably well on a wicket that didn’t suit our batting.
“We were brilliant with the ball and we right in the game until Jimmy Neesham came to the wicket, if not ahead of the game.
“Everybody struggled to clear the ropes, that was just the nature of the pitch, but you have to take your hat off to him, he played really well.”
England’s preparations were disrupted by injuries to Tymal Mills and Jason Roy but Morgan refused to use that as an excuse for his side’s defeat.
“I don’t think you can put a measure on missing a player,” he added.
“The 11 guys that took the field today gave absolutely everything. I’m extremely proud of the performance that they put in.
“When you play really well, it doesn’t always guarantee that you win games. Unfortunately, we found ourselves on the wrong side of a really tight game today.”
Article courtesy: ICC Business Corporation FZ LLC 2020 via Online Media Zone.