Cricket Expert & Columnist
“They’re an outstanding team in all formats of the game”; Mike Atherton has lauded New Zealand as the best team in the world across all formats following their five-wicket win over England in the semi-final of the T20 World Cup
Last Updated: 10/11/21 7:46pm
Mike Atherton believes New Zealand have proven themselves to be the best team in the world across all formats after reaching another ICC final with victory over England.
The Black Caps will now take on one of Pakistan and Australia in the T20 World Cup final after the narrowest of defeats to England in the 50-over World Cup final in 2019 and beating India earlier this year to become World Test Championship winners.
Kane Williamson’s side have made a habit of appearing in the latter stages of global events in recent years and Atherton thinks they should now be considered the best all-round team in international cricket.
“They are an outstanding team, in all formats of the game really,” the former England captain told Sky Sports.
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“They are through to another World Cup final, they were a sliver away from winning the last World Cup in 2019, they are the World Test Championship winners.
“Across formats, you would have to say they are the strongest team at the moment so congratulations to them, a fantastic achievement with limited resources in terms of personnel and money and things that we’ve often talked about.”
The five-wicket victory against England in Abu Dhabi was secured with an over to spare but for much of the chase, New Zealand appeared to be struggling to keep up with the required run-rate.
That all changed with a 11-ball blitz from all-rounder Jimmy Neesham, who hit three sixes on his way to a match-changing 27 to give the Kiwis the momentum to go on and seal a famous win.
Kevin Pietersen says there was not much Chris Jordan could do when Jimmy Neesham took the game away from England in the latter stages of their T20 World Cup semi-final
“It just changed so quickly tonight,” added Atherton. “For a long time in that chase, I thought England were ahead of the game. The pitch looked two-paced and sluggish, no one really got going and suddenly Neesham comes out and changed that game with some fantastic hitting.”
Asked who he thinks will join New Zealand in Sunday’s showpiece match, Atherton pointed to the strength of Pakistan’s bowling attack when picking them to overcome Australia in the second semi-final.
“I’m going with Pakistan, I think they have got the best and most varied attack in this competition,” he said. “You think of that attack: Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf, the spinners, the combinations that they have so I reckon they got the best attack and I think they will win it.”
Watch the second T20 World Cup semi-final between Pakistan and Australia from 1.30pm, Thursday on Sky Sports Cricket and Main Event.