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Justice delayed but not denied

Thursday 11 November 2021 | Written by Rahul Patil | Published in Cricket, Sports

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Justice delayed but not denied
Jimmy Neesham hit a quickfire 27 as New Zealand beat England in the semifinals of the T20 World Cup. Photo Supplied.

The first semifinal in the Twenty20 World Cup early yesterday produced an absolute thriller in Abu Dhabi. The pendulum kept swinging back and forth and New Zealand in the end got home with six balls to spare to confirm their place in the final. They now await the winner of the second semifinal between Pakistan and Australia.

Semifinal 1

New Zealand 167/5 (Daryl Mitchell 72*, Conway 46, Neesham 27, Livingstone 2/22) beat England 166 for 4 (Moeen Ali 51*, Dawid Malan 41, Southee 1/24) by 5 wickets.

When we discuss cricketing rivalries we normally talk about the Ashes (England vs Australia) or India vs Pakistan. But two teams who are developing a nice little rivalry of their own are New Zealand and England. Flash back to the 2019 ODI Cricket World Cup final which is regarded by many as the finest one day international ever played. On that day New Zealand were extremely unlucky to finish as runners up. Had it not been for an incorrect call on an overthrow in 2019 they would be eyeing to be world champions in all three formats on the back of their World Test Championship win earlier this year.

New Zealand won the toss and elected to field first. Tim Southee and Trent Boult found swing with the new ball which made scoring difficult for the inform Jos Buttler and his new partner Jonny Bairstow. At 53 for 2 in the 9th over, England’s innings was going nowhere. But left handers Dawid Malan and Moeen Ali put their heads down and grafted a 63-run partnership. As they spent time in the middle batting got easier and they picked up the scoring rate as well. Malan’s driving through the off side was exemplary and so was Ali’s sweeping. This base gave Liam Livingstone the license to attack from ball one and he and Ali then put up 40 runs in just 24 balls. England finished with a par score of 166 for 4 in their 20 overs. But runs on the board in a big semifinal are worth their weight in gold. Despite all his doubters in white ball cricket (including myself) Tim Southee once again produced economical figures of 1 for 24 of his 4 overs. Cricket teaches us an important life lesson ‘never write off anybody’.

The Kiwis run chase started in disastrous fashion losing Martin Guptill and captain Kane Williamson inside 3 overs with only 13 on the board. Like Southee and Boult did for New Zealand, Chris Woakes and Chris Jordan made the new Kookaburra talk making life difficult for the New Zealand batters. Daryl Mitchell and Devon Conway realised that the need of the hour was building a partnership and they went about it in fine fashion putting on 82 valuable runs in just 67 balls. Picking up ones and twos they kept the scoreboard ticking and found the odd boundary when the opportunity presented itself. Conway fell trying to up the ante and 95 for 2 soon became 107 for 4 with New Zealand still needing 60 of 29 balls.

In walked Jimmy Neesham. The same Jimmy Neesham who fell out of love for the game in 2017 and thought of quitting the game for good. The same Jimmy Neesham who hit Jofra Archer for a six in the super over in the World Cup final but couldn’t take his side home. The same Jimmy Neesham who openly speaks about still getting nightmares about the ODI World Cup final in 2019. The same Jimmy Neesham who wondered if he would ever get a second chance for redemption. And yesterday was the chance Neesham was waiting for. In an 11-ball innings using his power and the gift of sublime timing he smacked 27 runs of the English bowlers to bring the target down to 20 from 2 overs before he departed.

Until now man of the match Daryl Mitchell had been anchoring the innings. But with the departure of Neesham he decided to change into top gear and took 20 of Chris Woakes to win the game for New Zealand with an over to spare.

On the first ball of the 18th over of the run chase there was an incident which beautifully summed up the essence of New Zealand cricket. Daryl Mitchell refused to take an easily available single as he had accidently prevented the bowler Rashid from fielding a ball of his own bowling. The asking rate for New Zealand at this stage was extremely high and it was amazing to see that regardless of the game situation Mitchell stuck by his team’s principle of winning the right way and in the process taught us another life lesson ‘Nice guys don’t have to finish last’.