Abu Dhabi, UAE – England sought to build on their 50-over cricket World Cup triumph in 2019 and make it two finals in a row.
However, a late onslaught by New Zealand, beaten finalists two years ago, ensured progress to the final of the 2021 T20 World Cup with a five-wicket win over England in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
New Zealand now awaits the winner of the second semi-final between Australia and unbeaten Pakistan that takes place in Dubai on Thursday.
The winners, set a target of 167 by England, looked down and out when they needed 57 off the final four overs.
But a Jimmy Neesham cameo, with 23 coming off the 16th over by England’s Chris Jordan, turned the tide. Daryl Mitchell hit a flurry of sixes late in the day and scored an unbeaten 72 as the Kiwis sealed progress with one over left.
Neesham fell for an 11-ball 27 but Mitchell, who was adjudged man of the match, guided New Zealand home.
The stunning turnaround left the England supporters at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium shocked, with some of them heading for the exit at the start of the 19th over.
“We’ve played each other on a number of occasions, we knew it would be a great game of cricket,” New Zealand captain Kane Williamson said.
“Really chuffed with the heart that was shown throughout that performance. We had wickets in hand which was really important. Neesham came out and hit the ball hard, and changed the momentum of the game.”
Earlier, England, who were put into bat, scraped through to 67 for two at the halfway mark in their innings.
Dawid Malan scored 41 and Moeen Ali an unbeaten 51 off 37 to take their side to a competitive 166 for four off their quota.
New Zealand got off to the worst possible start when Chris Woakes dismissed the dangerous Martin Guptill in the first over and captain Williamson in the third to leave New Zealand reeling.
As England players and supporters eyed Sunday’s final, Neesham and Mitchell completed a remarkable heist to take their side through.
“We are a six-hitting side and we struggled to hit them,” England T20 cricket captain Eoin Morgan said.
“We changed our game plan and posted around a par score. We felt right in the game at the halfway stage. Given the start we had, taking early wickets, it couldn’t have gone any better.”
The two sides met in the final of the 50-over format at Lord’s in 2019 when England were adjudged winners after a now-scrapped boundary countback rule.