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T20 World Cup: Daryl Mitchell rings in ‘All Blacks’ spirit | Cricket News

Brawn is something that people associated with the rugged sport of rugby are born with. New Zealand’s T20 World Cup semifinal hero, Daryl Mitchell, has plenty of it. After all, he has a very strong rugby connection. His father, John, 57, who watched his son’s heroics from the Zayed stadium stands in Abu Dhabi, was an All Blacks coach and player, and till July, was assisting the England rugby team.

But along with brawn, Mitchell, 30, who also played rugby at school, and was zeroed in as an opener only during the warm-up games of the World Cup, showed that he has a lot of brains too.
He believes in getting the matchups right and waiting for his moment, like he did on Wednesday. His first 30 runs were laborious as they came off 33 balls. His next 42 came off 14 balls. “Once the rate gets up, it gets a bit hyped. You make sure that you get your matchups right. We didn’t lose too many wickets in the middle and it allowed us to take risks to catch up,” Mitchell explained.
His philosophy echoed that of Indian great MS Dhoni. “Take the game deep. Then the bowler is under as much pressure as you are,” has been Dhoni’s mantra.
Mitchell, who is one of the best finishers back home for Canterbury, in the Super Smash, New Zealand’s T20 franchise competition, was trying hard to whack the ball early on. But mistimed shanks were all he managed. Then he decided to calm down and let his experience dictate proceedings.
Having started his New Zealand career at 27, Mitchell is a late bloomer. But only at the international level. He has played 10 seasons for Northern Districts and one for Canterbury, so he has experienced different match situations and pressures. Of course, none that mirrors the stress one feels in a World Cup semifinal. Yet, he always believed that they could pull it off.
“I debuted at 27, so to be able to get seven, eight years of domestic cricket under my belt before representing New Zealand; I think I actually consider myself lucky. That means I learnt my game having gone through the highs and lows of domestic cricket so that once you get on to the international stage, you understand what works for you as a cricketer and person,” he explained.
The 30-year old had scored a buccaneering 49 against India where he had neutralized the Indian spinners with his charge and hit technique in a modest chase of 110.
On Wednesday, after struggling with timing early on, he chose to stand back in the crease and manufacture a shorter length than what Woakes was bowling, to hit him for two sixes in the 19th over. Apart from strength in those iron forearms, Mitchell also is blessed with steely resolve and belief, two attributes that have the potential to transform less talented mortals into supermen.
“It sounds weird, but it never felt like it (the equation of 57 needed from 24) was out of our grasp. With that smaller boundary on one side, we knew that there were going to be matchups that might suit us,” Mitchell explained.