Abu Dhabi (IANS): New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson said he knew that the semifinal match against England will become a great game of cricket. He was in praise of opener Daryl Mitchell standing up to seal a five-wicket win and a spot in the final of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup.
“We have played each other on a number of occasions and most players have played together in various tournaments. We knew it would be a great game of cricket and that was a case. It ebbed and flowed and I’m really chuffed with the heart shown throughout,” said Williamson in the post-match presentation ceremony on Wednesday.
“I thought they had a pretty competitive total at halfway stage. It was an outstanding knock at the top from Daryl Mitchell but it was also about staying in there and cashing in on small match-ups, that was the difference,” added Williamson, who has now taken New Zealand to their first final of the T20 World Cup.
Talking about Mitchell’s unbeaten 72 off 47 balls, Williamson said, “His character stood out today and has done in pretty much every game he’s played for us. It an incredible knock. He hasn’t done it a lot at top of the order. There’s real quality there.”
He was also in praise of James Neesham’s match-changing cameo of 27 off just 11 balls, including taking 23 off Chris Jordan in the 17th over. “He came out and hit the ball hard. It’s what he does. It was a really valuable knock for us. It changed the momentum of the game. There was clever hitting at the end which decided the outcome of the game.”
Asked if he would be watching the semi-final between Australia and Pakistan on Thursday, Williamson remarked that players in the team will watch but focus will now go to the final on Sunday. “I am sure we will be following it. The guys have been watching most of the games. It’ll be a fantastic match, highly competitive. We know we have another challenge coming up and we’ll change our focus after tonight.”
MEANWHILE, England captain Eoin Morgan was gracious in his side’s five-wicket defeat against New Zealand in first semi-final of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, crediting Kane Williamson and his team with outplaying them.
With 57 needed off the last four overs, England seemed to be favourites to wrap the match. But James Neesham (27 off 11 balls) and Daryl Mitchell (72 not out off 47 balls) produced some stunning fireworks to turn the match in New Zealand’s favour.
“Full credit to Kane and his team. They outplayed us today. I can’t fault anything that we’ve done tonight. We’ve fought hard and represented ourselves well, but come up short tonight. Incredibly proud of the guys,” said Morgan in the post-match presentation.
He credited Neesham for changing the momentum of the game. “To have an ability to come out and hit sixes from ball one like that is not something everyone has. Full credit to him. He swayed the game in the Black Caps’ favour. ”
Asked about where the game slipped away from England, Morgan said, “It’s hard to identify key moments. I thought we were right in the game from our innings right through to the 17th over. They built right up until they had to push the button then they came good. I thought we had held them at bay until that point.”
Morgan mentioned that the pitch was two-paced when England was batting first. “We are a six-hitting side and we struggled to hit them. We hung in there, we changed our game plan and posted around a par score. We felt right in the game at the halfway stage. Given the start we had, taking early wickets, it couldn’t have gone any better.”
Morgan concluded by saying that he has a lot to offer with the next year’s T20 World Cup in Australia. “I hope so. I think I am still offering enough within the side. I love playing cricket at the moment. The guys give absolutely everything and are always looking to get better. They are at the forefront of change both on and off the field. I am incredibly proud to be their leader.”