England were probably ahead of the game until Jimmy Neesham turned it around for New Zealand in the semi-final of the T20 World Cup on Wednesday, captain Eoin Morgan has said. England, who were touted as favorites to win the tournament, fell to a five-wicket defeat on Wednesday despite New Zealand requiring over 14 runs an over before the 17th over.
“We’re devastated. To be on the wrong side of a close game is not easy to take. We were right in the game probably until Jimmy Neesham came to the wicket, if not ahead of the game,” Morgan said in the post-match press conference.
“I think it was a very closely fought game right throughout. I thought Jimmy Neesham was probably the only guy that came out and was showing the ability to strike the ball cleanly from ball one,” Morgan said.
“Hitting ability within our squad is quite strong, and the indication that the guys didn’t feel like they could clear the ropes due to the nature of the pitch was a good indication that it wasn’t coming on to the bat that well. I think that continued throughout the Black Caps’ innings until he came to the crease.”
Having lost opener Jason Roy to a torn calf, England promoted Jonny Bairstow to partner Jos Buttler at the top of the innings but the ploy did not pay off.
England were also without paceman Tymal Mills whose campaign was cut short by a thigh strain.
Asked if missing two key players cost England in the match, Morgan said: “I don’t think you can put a measure on missing a player.
“I think the 11 guys that took the field today gave absolutely everything. I’m extremely proud of the performance that they put in.
“When you play really well, it doesn’t always guarantee that you win games. Unfortunately we found ourselves on the wrong side of a really tight game today.”