Riding on a stunning late assault from Daryl Mitchell and James Neesham, New Zealand stormed to their first-ever T20 World Cup final, beating heavily favoured England by five wickets and with an over to spare Wednesday at Abu Dhabi.
Victory in Sunday's T20 final in Dubai for the Black Caps - against the winners of tomorrow's second semifinal between Australia and Pakistan - would make them the first team to hold the world championship title simultaneously in more than one format.
It means the Kiwis have made it through to the final of the world cup in all three formats of cricket in the current cycle: they were defeated in the 50-over ODI final by England in 2019, but became the inaugural champions of Test cricket by beating India in the final earlier this year. Both those finals were played at Lord's, the Mecca of Cricket.
Set 167 to win, New Zealand needed 57 runs off the last 4 overs after the chase had apparently stalled. But that's when Mitchell and Neesham came alive.
It all started with a 23-run over from Chris Jordan, and then Adil Rashid conceded 14 off the next over, bringing the target down to very manageable levels.
New Zealand needed 20 runs in the last two overs. Chris Woakes conceded all of these runs in six balls— in the 19th over with two sixes and one four by Mitchell. In the 18th over, Adil Rashid conceded 14 runs taking one wicket.
Mitchel remained unbeaten for a stunning 72 off 47 balls with four fours and as many as sixes. Neesham could not finish the game but smashed 27 off 11 balls and helped the Black Caps seal the game in style. Neesham hit three sixes and one four.
Devon Conway, the wicketkeeper, scored 46 off 38 balls to chase down the challenging target.
In the first 10 overs, New Zealand’s score was 58 for two. In the last 10 overs, they needed to score another 109 runs, but they took only 9.o overs for that.
With this win, New Zealand also avenged their defeat in the final of the 2019 World Cup when they were beaten in an incredibly close finish by England, that too thanks to a controversial boundary-count law since scrapped by the ICC.
Earlier, Moeen Ali hit 51 off 37 balls with three fours and two sixes to guide England post a challenging total of 166 for 4 in 20 overs.
New Zealand won the toss and opted to bowl first. They managed to keep England down to 166 runs.
England were slow at the start of the innings. They posted 37 runs in the first wicket stand in 5.1 overs. Jonny Bairstow got a chance in the XI to replace Jason Roy who has been ruled out of the World Cup due to a leg injury.
But Jonny failed to do well as he was dismissed for 13 off 17 balls with two fours. He was removed by Adam Milne.
David Malan came at number three and posted 41 off 30 balls with four fours and one six. He helped England to score some runs faster, but he failed to continue on a good run as Tim Southee removed him.
The onus was on Moeen to guide England to a challenging total, and he fulfilled his duty well.
Liam Livingstone scored a quick 17 off 10 balls, but off the second ball of the last over he was caught at the boundary line.
Eventually, England ended up on 166 for four in 20 overs, with Moeen remaining unbeaten for 51.
For New Zealand, Southee, Milne, James Neesham and Ish Sodhi bagged one wicket each.
This is now the highest successful T20I chase in Abu Dhabi. New Zealand surpassed Namibia’s 165 which they scored against the Netherlands in this World Cup.
And for England, it was their first World Cup semifinal defeat after 1983. They won five consecutive World Cup semifinals before this defeat. Their last defeat before this came against India was in 1983.
The second semifinal will be played on November 11 between Pakistan and Australia at 8pm Bangladesh time. The winner of the second semifinal will take on New Zealand in the final, which will take place on November 14 in Dubai.