Spectacular run pursuit directs Kiwis into their first T-20 World Cup final on Sunday – by Sunil Thenabadu (Sports editor – eLanka)
A dazzling run chase in Abu Dhabi in pursuit of a formidable and not easy to defend England total of 166 for the loss of only four wickets last night saw New Zealand stealing a triumph from the jaws of a definite defeat. It was thanks to some terrific big hitting by Darryl Mitchell who never contemplated to open open the innings and James Neesham who was pondering retiring in year 2017. Chasing a rigid total target of 167 to win, New Zealand were reduced to 13 for two losing dependable Guptil and skipper Williamson for just 13 runs.Williamson looked very dejected as his reverse sweep paid a rich price were then in a losing precarious position. when a solid third wicket partnership between opener Darryl Mitchell and Devon Cornwell made it 107 for four. Devon Cornwell was the aggressor batting confidently before trying to accelerate was stumped by Jos Butler off spinner Livngstone Then Kiwis needed 60 runs in 29 balls. when James Neesham walked into the crease. Off one over from Chris Jordon in third and 17th in the innings he hit two huge sixes and a four which conceded 21 unexpected runs, which paved the way for this run chase pursuit .It is said that no team had chased that many to win a T-20 International in Abu Dhabi .Until the completion of the 11th over it was all England.
That reduced New Zealand’s run chase to 34 in 18 balls and in the next over Mitchell cracked a six off Adil Rashid’s first ball in the 18th over to complete a superb half-century at which time NZ required 21 in 14 balls. Neeshan who batted aggressively to make27 in 11 balls . He was caught slashing a ball hard from Rashid’ last ball to be caught well by Morgan in the cover region.
With New Zealand needing 20 runs off the penultimate over, Mitchell smashed two sixes off Woakes and then hit a four off the last ball of the over to achieve a remarkable run chase successfully This loss dumbfounded the Englishmen and supporters as it was all England up to the 12th over.Mitchell’s unbeaten 72 contained four fours and four sixes , came off 47 deliveries. Neesham had hit 27 off 11 balls with one four and three gigantic sixes. Wicketkeeper Deveon Conway stabilised the innings after the loss of two early wickets scoring 46 runs off 38 balls with five fours and one six. Darryl Mitchell was the obvious choice for the ‘Player of the Match”
Earlier, as the usual norm England were put in to bat, posted aformidable perhaps a winning total of 166 for four with Moeen Ali top scoring with an unbeaten 51 in 37 balls with three fours and two sixes. Dawid Malan had chipped in with 41 runs.
Australia will meet Pakistan in the second semi-final tonight in Dubai.
Pakistan, the only unbeaten team in the competition is highly believed to be favourites over Australia to win the game and play the Kiwis in the Final on Sunday in Dubai.