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By VINODE MAMCHAN
(Abu Dhabi, UAE)A classy player showed the world that you need to think on your feet to be successful and while working he took his team New Zealand into their first ICC World T20 finals at the expense of England at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
Just two years ago, England defeated New Zealand in the finals of the 50 overs tournament at the Lord’s cricket ground in a Super Over. That would have left Kiwi fans scarred. The win now although not erasing that close loss, was some sort of revenge on the ‘old enemy’. England batted well to record 166/4 off their 20 overs which was enough to give their bowlers some room to work. Mooen Ali continued to reform his career with a powerful 51 not out off 37 balls to take England beyond 150.
England’s bowlers removed the two dangerous Kiwis in Martin Guptill and skipper Kane Williamson within the first three overs and life was fine in London. Mitchell was able to weather the early storm and understood his role. When New Zealand needed 57 runs from the final four overs, the drinks were flowing on Downing Street but Mitchell changed gears and together with Jimmy Neesham’s 26 off eight balls forced an early return to the tube.
Mitchell walked into a warm embrace from his teammates with 72 not out to his name off 47 balls with four sixes and four fours. When England threatened Mitchell and Devon Conway steadied the ship with an 82-run stand. Conway who needed to get in some cricket left South Africa and decided to play for New Zealand. He has quickly put his name into the cricket consciousness in his adopted country. He has a ban of 14 fans who wear his shirt and has been following him during this World Cup. He cracked 46 off 38 balls with a six and five fours.
Earlier, England got starts from their first six batsmen but their top scorer this tournament Jos Butler got cut down when he was looking dangerous on 29 off 24 balls. It took Ali who would have played a lot of cricket on this pitch during the IPL for Chennai Super Kings, to lead the way. He and Dawid Malan 63 runs in seven overs that brought England back to life. When Malan left for 41 off 30 balls including a six and four fours, Ali took over to smack the Kiwis around the park.
Pacer Tim Southee called on all his experience to keep the English at bay for a while in taking 1/24 off his four overs.
Timing was his forte as he was able to get valuable runs from the others in the middle order to push England into a strong position. However, their bowlers just didn’t show up when it mattered and it will be Kiwis marching forward to eight meet their neighbours Australia or Asia’s only team in the knockout phase Pakistan. English fans who were on hand gracefully accepted defeat at a avenue that did not allow alcoholic indulgences.