Into the World Cup final! Black Caps stun England with brilliant comeback

Author
Niall Anderson, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 11 Nov 2021, 7:12AM
Trent Boult took seven wickets. (Photo / Photosport)
Trent Boult took seven wickets. (Photo / Photosport)

Into the World Cup final! Black Caps stun England with brilliant comeback

Author
Niall Anderson, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 11 Nov 2021, 7:12AM

When Daryl Mitchell arrived at the Twenty20 World Cup, he wasn't even sure if he'd be playing. Now, he's written a piece of New Zealand cricketing history. 

Mitchell's unbeaten 73 off 48 balls has guided the Black Caps to a superb five-wicket semifinal victory over England – a victory that doubles as a measure of revenge for the 2019 ODI World Cup final heartbreak. 

This time, it was the Black Caps who came back from the dead. 

Chasing 167 for victory, New Zealand's chances seemed dire at 13-2 after three overs, with Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson dismissed. 

Mitchell combined with Devon Conway (46 off 38 balls) for an 82-run stand which rebuilt the innings, but the required run rate had hit 10 an over with 12 overs remaining, and the Black Caps had few big hitters left to unleash. 

They still had Jimmy Neesham though. 

Needing 57 runs from the last four overs, Neesham's 27 off 11 balls included a mammoth 23-run 17th over off Chris Jordan that swung the game in New Zealand's favour. 

And, when Neesham fell, Mitchell took over. 

The man who had never opened in any form of cricket until the World Cup warm-up games blasted Chris Woakes for six, then six again, and finished him off with a four through backward square, to remarkably see the Black Caps home with an over to spare. 

A showdown with either Australia or Pakistan awaits in Monday morning's final, as the Black Caps look to add T20 world champions to their test world champion status – a two-title reign that they denied England from having the chance to collect. 

They did it despite a bowling and fielding effort that wasn't at the high standards displayed in pool play. 

Having won the toss and bowled first in Abu Dhabi, the Black Caps started solidly, but allowed England to wriggle away. After Ish Sodhi had removed danger man Jos Buttler for 29 off 24 balls, a 63-run partnership between Dawid Malan and Moeen Ali set a platform for acceleration at the death. 

Malan was dropped by Conway on 10, and after near-perfect fielding earlier in the tournament, the Black Caps couldn't snare any half chances, and some rare sloppiness – including nine wides – gave England extra runs, and opportunities. 

Malan made 41 off 30 balls, and Moeen an unbeaten 51 off 37 as England added 56 off their last five overs, with Trent Boult (0-40), Adam Milne (1-31) and Ish Sodhi (1-32) all looser than in pool play, while matchups dictated that Mitchell Santner was only required for one over. 

When Glenn Phillips dropped the last ball of the innings, gifting England two extra runs, thoughts drifted to 2019, and whether those extra runs would be costly. 

It sure looked like every run would be vital when Guptill departed third ball, while Williamson mustered just five off 11 balls before trying to lap Woakes and looping an edge to short fine leg. 

Conway also took five balls to get off the mark, and New Zealand's powerplay offering of 36-2 was their lowest of the tournament. 

Mitchell was still there though, and while the required run rate crept up, England had been front-loading their bowling attack, and had notably struggled at the death all tournament. 

Mark Wood's 11th over leaked 15 runs as Conway hit New Zealand's first six of the innings, but he danced down the wicket to Liam Livingstone and was stumped, and Phillips holed out shortly after to leave the Black Caps staring at an unlikely equation – 57 off 24 balls. 

Enter Neesham. 

The 31-year-old will be forever etched in history, with the picture of him consoling Guptill after the Super Over defeat in 2019, but today was a time for redemption. 

In an eerie similarity to Boult's faulty footwork in 2019, Jonny Bairstow looked to have pulled off a stunning relay catch on the long-on boundary to dismiss Neesham, only for replays to show his knee had hit the rope before the ball left his hand. 

That was six of the 23 runs that came off Jordan's 17th over, and 14 more came off Adil Rashid's 18th over, until Neesham slapped his final ball straight to Eoin Morgan in the covers. 

He had done enough though. With 20 off 12 needed, Mitchell smoked Woakes for six over long-on, then for six more over midwicket, and when the equation was reduced to four runs required, Mitchell deposited a full toss through backward square to write his name into Kiwi cricketing folklore.