Cricket

T20 World Cup: When Daryl Mitchell played anchor and finisher in the same innings


New Zealand required 34 runs off 18 balls. Adil Rashid started his last over, also the final over of spin during the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup semifinal in Abu Dhabi. James Neesham, having tonked Chris Jordan all over the park in the previous over, punched one into the ground, the ball trundled to long-off and Daryl Mitchell turned down the run on offer.

In real-time, it was thought that the mini-collision between the leggie and Mitchell resulted in him displaying spirit of cricket, which has in the 21st century become a hallmark of Black Caps’ cricket. But replays displayed that Mitchell hadn’t really impeded the bowler but it may have been a tactical move, to let Neesham have a go at Rashid. The next ball was sent packing over midwicket boundary.

READ: Neesham’s innings was special, says Daryl Mitchell

That moment underlined Mitchell, still a rookie at international stage, was not only a level-headed batter but also a tactically sound player.

And once Neesham’s blitzkrieg got over five balls later, Mitchell took over the mantle and finished the job without any fuss to end England’s campaign and book New Zealand’s berth in the third successive ICC tournament final, across formats.

Perfect exhibition

Mitchell’s innings was a perfect exhibition of a T20 batter at the top of the innings. With the two most renowned batters falling early, Mitchell didn’t take risks in the PowerPlay, kept the scoreboard moving in the middle and went berserk at the death.

For a middle-order bat who was asked to open the innings days ahead of the T20 World Cup, Mitchell displayed in the biggest match of his career his qualities of being the anchor and the finisher in the same innings.

Son of former All Blacks rugby coach John, Mitchell Jr., was as calm as he would be during a scrum in his childhood before shifting focus to cricket.

“Once the rate gets up a bit, sort of a bit hyped, you start trying to make sure that you get your match-ups that work for you and you are trying to hit as far as you can, to be honest,” he said while addressing a media conference after being adjudged man of the match.

“For us we were very lucky that we sort of held our platform. We didn’t lose too many wickets in the middle there and it allowed us to take some risks at certain times to try and catch up. For me it was nice to sort of give it out in the middle the last few. It was a struggle there throughout the middle, but it was nice to get it done.”

New Zealand will be hoping Mitchell keeps the momentum in Dubai on Sunday.



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