NZ were lucky to ace ‘game of inches’, says Mitchell

Published November 12, 2021
New Zealand’s Daryl Mitchell plays a shot during the World T20 semifinal against England at Abu Dhabi cricket stadium on November 10, 2021. — AFP
New Zealand’s Daryl Mitchell plays a shot during the World T20 semifinal against England at Abu Dhabi cricket stadium on November 10, 2021. — AFP

ABU DHABI: New Zealand opener Daryl Mitchell said they needed generous help from Lady Luck to prevail against England in the semi-final of the Twenty20 World Cup on Wednesday.

Chasing a tricky 167 on a track where England’s star-studded lineup struggled to fire, New Zealand had their own difficulties with the bat that left them needing 57 runs from the last four overs.

Jimmy Neesham then exploded with the bat, belting an 11-ball 27 and Mitchell, who remained not out after a 47-ball 72, guided New Zealand home.

They hit a combined seven sixes, including two occasions when Chris Jordan and Jonny Bairstow caught the ball near the rope but just could not check their momentum.

“Look, we were obviously very lucky at times,” Mitchell, who was adjudged man-of-the-match for his stellar innings, told reporters.

“A couple sailed over the ropes that could have been a metre shorter and we’re all out.

“But at the same time we always knew that as long as we kept sort of just within the certain numbers that we felt comfortable with that we were always in with a chance.”

It took a special cameo from Neesham to win the match but Mitchell said New Zealand were always in the contest.

“It probably sounds weird, but it never felt like it was out of our grasp,” the 30-year-old said.

“I think especially with that smaller side boundary on one side, we knew that there were going to be matchups there that might suit us towards the end.”

The late drama was a reminder of the heart-stopping final of the 2019 ODI World Cup between the teams where England were crowned the 50-overs champions due to a now-scrapped boundary countback rule.

“It’s a bit of a blur, but I can imagine it was a hell of a game to watch, and I think the way England played was very special,” Mitchell said.

“It’s obviously pretty cool to get the job done, but I know it’s a game of inches.”

It will be the third world final for Kane Williamson’s team in two years after they beat India in the inaugural Test championship earlier in 2021.

“Look, we’re a bunch of Kiwis. There’s only five million of us, so we’re obviously very proud to be representing our country,” said Mitchell.

“We’ve had some success in the last few years. We’re going to enjoy the win tonight but then we move on pretty quickly.

“We know that we have a final on Sunday, and whoever we’re taking on should be good fun.”

Mitchell is playing in his first T20 World Cup after his international debut in 2019.

“It’s obviously a great honour to represent my country at a World Cup,” said Mitchell. “If you said this five, six years ago I would have laughed at you, so to be here sitting right now is awesome.”

Published in Dawn, November 12th, 2021

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