No historic World Cup double as England lose in semi-finals

NEW ZEALAND won it – not quite “by the barest of margins”, as someone once said, but with an over to spare to end England’s dream of becoming the first to hold both white-ball World Cups simultaneously.

Final redemption?: New Zealand’s Daryl Mitchell celebrates their T20 World Cup semi-final victory over England at Sheikh Zayed stadium in Abu Dhabi yesterday. Mitchell top scored with an unbeaten 72 from 44 balls. Picture: Alex Davidson/Getty Images

Two years on from their unforgettable meeting in the 50-over World Cup final at Lord’s, when England prevailed in the Super Over, these magnificent teams were at it again, serving up not quite the same drama, perhaps, but certainly a minor classic in the heat of Abu Dhabi.

As was the case at Lord’s, it could have gone either way. With four overs of the contest left, it looked as though England would be heading through to the final in Dubai on Sunday to face the winner of today’s second semi-final between Pakistan and Australia.

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New Zealand needed 57 runs from those four overs, their total standing at 110-4 in reply to England’s 166-4, after Kane Williamson, the Kiwis captain, had inserted on a slightly sluggish and two-paced pitch.

England's Liam Livingstone celebrates the dismissal of New Zealand's Glenn Phillips.

Liam Livingstone, the Lancashire all-rounder, had just bowled an outstanding 16th over from which New Zealand had managed only three runs and also lost a wicket, and the momentum seemed firmly with England captain Eoin Morgan and his men.

But there is invariably a fall guy in T20 cricket, and on this occasion it was Chris Jordan, a man who epitomises so much of what England do well.

Alas, Jordan was slightly off it for much of the 17th over, and he paid a big price, conceding 23 runs which tilted the balance back towards New Zealand.

There were two wides and two sixes amid the mayhem of the over, the maximums swung into the leg-side by the left-hander Jimmy Neesham, who produced a crucial intervention of 27 from 11 balls, which included another leg-side six off Adil Rashid in the 18th over.

That over disappeared for 14 and although the Yorkshire leg-spinner removed Neesham from the final ball of it, the batsman slapping to Morgan in the covers, by then it was too late and the target had come down to just 20 needed from the last two overs.

With Daryl Mitchell, who top-scored with an unbeaten 72 from 44 balls, to the fore, New Zealand required only one of them in any case, with two of Mitchell’s four sixes coming in the penultimate over from Chris Woakes which ended the game.

As the dust settles on a five-wicket defeat, England will look back ruefully on the right thigh strain that ended Tymal Mills’s participation during the group stages, with Mills’s skills at the death so vital to their hopes.

Not for the first time, New Zealand proved that no cause is ever lost in a T20 match, no target too great, no matter the occasion and pressure. They were deserving winners and, it almost goes without saying, gracious ones too.

They did not bowl brilliantly well during the game’s first half, but certainly very steadily. Despite having won a handy toss, with the advantage having been very much with the side batting second in this competition owing to the fact that dew makes the ball harder to grip for the bowlers later in proceedings, they encountered a determined England, who ran up 40-1 in the six-over powerplay.

Jonny Bairstow – promoted to open in the absence of the injured Jason Roy – was the man out, well caught by Williamson diving forward and to his left to claim a drive off Adam Milne.

England slipped to 53-2 in the ninth when Jos Buttler missed a reverse-sweep at leg-spinner Ish Sodhi and was leg-before, a decision upheld after Buttler reviewed, but Dawid Malan looked in fine fettle, the Yorkshire batsman unveiling a flurry of trademark shots through and over the cover field as the scoreboard kept ticking.

Malan survived a relatively straightforward chance on 10 to the wicketkeeper Devon Conway, who failed to hold an edge off Neesham, diving to his left, Conway finally catching his man when Malan, one ball after pulling Tim Southee for six, attempted something similar.

Moeen Ali lofted Sodhi for six over mid-wicket and pulled Milne for another maximum, the left-hander playing beautifully on his way to the top score of 51 not out from 37 deliveries.

The other wicket was that of Livingstone, who struck 17 from 10, including a huge straight six off Milne, before picking out long-off off Neesham in the final over.

New Zealand were in trouble at 13-2 inside three overs of their reply, Woakes having Martin Guptill caught at mid-on off a leading edge by Moeen, closely followed by Williamson taken at short fine-leg by Rashid off a scoop.

Conway and Mitchell added 82 in 11 to keep the Kiwis in the hunt, Livingstone finally breaking through when Conway charged him and was stumped for 46 from 38 balls.

Livingstone captured his second wicket when Glenn Phillips found Sam Billings at long-off, which left New Zealand 107-4 in the 16th over and seemingly out of the picture.

But Neesham and Mitchell got them back in the frame to exorcise at least some of the ghosts of Lord’s 2019.