Kane Williamson lauded Daryl Mitchell, whose unbeaten 72 powered New Zealand to a five-wicket win over England in the first semi-final of T20 World Cup 2021 in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. Mitchell struck four fours and as many sixes in a 47-ball knock to seal the chase with an over to spare.
At 13/2 in the third over, with Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson back in the hut, New Zealand were pushed on the backfoot early during their run-chase of 167. However, Daryl Mitchell stitched crucial partnerships with Devon Conway (46 off 38) and Jimmy Neesham (27 off 11) to take his team over the line with an over to spare.
New Zealand needed 57 off the last four overs, and Neesham and Mitchell struck six sixes and two fours between them from overs 17-19 to seal a five-wicket win. Earlier, Moeen Ali (51) and Dawid Malan (41) were England's standout performers in their first-innings effort of 166/4.
Skipper Williamson lauded Mitchell, and looked forward to New Zealand’s first ever T20 World Cup final appearance.
“Most players have played together in various tournaments,” said Williamson after the win. “Knew it was going to be a great game of cricket. Thought they had a pretty competitive total. But just by staying in there, building the partnerships and cashing in on some moments, some matchups. Definitely something that stood out today (Mitchell's character). Has batted beautifully in a high pressure situation.
“T20 cricket - it's a game of small margins. Depending on the surface, the short side - these things can be match-defining. He came out and hit the ball hard, that's what he does (neesham). Changed the momentum really. Fantastic knock from Darryl, hit the big shots when it counted. We'll be following that match - going to be fantastic. We know we have another challenge coming up and we'll change our focus after tonight.”
Mitchell looked back at a game-defining innings, and acknowledged Conway and Neesham for their timely support.
"A bit of a whirlwind, nice to get the job done and move onto the big dance,” he said as he received the Player of the Match award. “Challenging, especially at the start. The way Devon Conway batted through the middle, and Neesh, really helped us. It's a game of momentum, we knew we needed one or two big overs, and the way he struck the ball from ball one... With what's going on in the world, for my dad to travel halfway around the world and be here is pretty cool."
Pakistan and Australia will face-off in the second semifinal in Dubai on Thursday, November 11, and the winner will meet New Zealand in the final at the same venue on Sunday.