ELIMINATED: England lose T20 semi-final against New Zealand
England were eliminated from the T20 World Cup as Daryl Mitchell’s 72 not out from 47 balls lifted New Zealand to a five-wicket victory that sealed their place in the final and laid the ghosts of 2019 to rest.
In another absorbing contest between these two evenly-matched sides, Mitchell helped the Kiwis recover from 13 for two in pursuit of a target of 167, starting slowly before exploding in the final throes at a blustery Abu Dhabi.
New Zealand were left needing 57 from the final 24 balls, but Jimmy Neesham contributed an explosive 27 off 11 deliveries before Mitchell delivered the coup de grace as the Black Caps got home with an over to spare.
They were on the losing side in the 50-over World Cup final two years ago, beaten on boundary countback alone after tied scores in regulation and a super over, but they will now play Australia or Pakistan in Sunday’s showpiece.
England’s quest to become the first side to hold both limited-overs World Cups simultaneously has been put on ice – they will get another chance for T20 glory in Australia in 12 months – after their 166 for four was overhauled.
Moeen Ali underpinned their efforts with an unbeaten 51 from 37 balls and there were important contributions from Dawid Malan and Jos Buttler, while Chris Woakes made a double breakthrough with the ball to put England in command.
Experienced opener Martin Guptill and New Zealand captain Kane Williamson both departed within the first 16 balls of the chase but Mitchell and Devon Conway rebuilt, cautiously at first, to keep their side in the hunt.
The turning point came in a 17th over that yielded 23 runs, with Neesham depositing Chris Jordan over the leg-side boundary twice.
While he fell in the following over, Mitchell, who had played second fiddle to Conway then Neesham, tucked into Chris Woakes, finishing with four fours and four sixes to hand New Zealand a breathtaking win.
England’s bid has been hampered by injuries to key personnel, with Jason Roy joining Tymal Mills on the treatment table in a campaign where Eoin Morgan’s side made the trip without Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and Sam Curran.
The identity of Roy’s replacement was a closely-guarded secret by Morgan but Sam Billings was drafted in – although he was unused in the innings – with Jonny Bairstow promoted from his usual position of number four.
Bairstow was the logical choice to come in for Roy given the pair open together in one-day internationals but the Yorkshireman was unconvincing, after England lost an important toss, contributing 13 off 17 balls before uppishly driving Adam Milne’s first ball to mid-off, where Williamson expertly held on to a low chance diving forward.
The in-form Buttler cut and drove with aplomb in a Trent Boult over that yielded 16 but while he regained the mantle of the tournament’s leading run-scorer with a reverse sweep off Mitchell Santner, the tactic proved the England vice-captain’s undoing as he was given lbw for 29 to Ish Sodhi, taking a review with him.
Two left-handers were brought together as Moeen joined Malan, perhaps in an attempt to negate Sodhi’s leg-spin. Malan was initially the more adventurous, capitalising from being dropped on 10 by wicketkeeper Conway with three satisfying cover drives on a pitch where timing was an issue for batters throughout.
Moeen settled by cutting a rare loose delivery from Sodhi but while Malan was given another life when Milne spilled a sharp return catch, there would be no third stay of execution after tickling behind.
Liam Livingstone contributed a useful 17 off 10 balls, but it was Moeen who took centre stage as England added 66 runs in the last six overs, with Sodhi then Milne cleared over deep midwicket, en route to a 36-ball fifty.
England were firmly in the ascendancy at the outset of New Zealand’s innings thanks to Woakes. A first-ball loosener got the treatment it deserved by Guptill, who departed two balls later following a leading edge to mid-on, while Williamson’s poor tournament continued after top-edging an attempted ramp to short fine-leg.
Mitchell and Conway steadied proceedings before the latter cast off the shackles, flaying Mark Wood over third. Mitchell had his first six, with Jordan’s sensational acrobatic effort insufficient to stop the ball touching the rope.
Conway was stumped for 46 off Livingstone, who also claimed the wicket of Glenn Phillips to finish with useful figures of 4-0-22-2. There was a sense England were now favourites but Neesham, who came so close to lifting New Zealand to victory in that epic 2019 final, clobbered Jordan to instantly shift the momentum.
Morgan held on to snare Neesham at cover as the equation came down to 20 off the final 12 balls, but Mitchell, having passed his half-century, clobbered slower then shorter deliveries from Woakes high over the leg-side.
A full toss was then steered effortlessly through square as the Kiwis also avenged their defeat to England at the same stage of the 2016 edition.
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