MS Dhoni once said "the longer you bat, the deeper you take the game, the more worried is the opposition and its bowlers."
Dhoni made a career out of white-ball cricket by timing run chases to perfection. He takes the game as deep as possible and picks the bowlers to target and finishes the job. That is what Daryl Mitchell and New Zealand, and to a certain extent Australia, have done.
There was a pattern to how both the games panned out. Both teams won the toss and chose to bowl, which was a brave call considering it was a World Cup semi-final. But these players are very experienced in these types of high-pressure games, courtesy of T20 leagues around the world. They are confident of pulling off wins when chasing huge totals.
New Zealand lost two of their most experienced batsmen in Williamson and Guptill early on. The onus fell upon two internationally inexperienced batsmen in Devon Conway and Daryl Mitchell.
Instead of going hard and counterattacking the opposition bowling on a two-paced pitch, both the batsmen bided their time. The run-rate never really crossed 6. The Kiwis were 58 for 2 after 10 overs, still needing 109 runs in 10 overs.
New Zealand accelerated a bit in the next five overs scoring 49 but lost Conway and Glenn Phillips. They needed 57 off the last four overs. This is the moment New Zealand were waiting for. They knew England's death bowling isn't their strongest suit with the absence of Tymal Mills. England went in with an extra batsman in Sam Billings who didn't get a chance to bat.
New Zealand was waiting to exploit this weakness of England and they did that brilliantly. They took on Chris Jordan, who dished out some poor balls which were in the slot. But they still needed to be put away and New Zealand didn't fail to punish a single bad delivery.
Adil Rashid and Woakes received similar treatment when they erred in their lines and lengths.
The importance of a set batsmen at the death cannot be overstated and Mitchell proved it right. Neesham played a terrific cameo of 27(11) to take the Black Caps home.
Australia's innings followed a slightly different path but they too required over 12 runs per over in the last 5. After losing Finch early on, Australia didn't sit back. They were aggressive in the powerplay. But they lost their way in the middle and were reeling at 96 for 5.
Stoinis and Wade knew they were the last recognized batsmen and played cautiously. At one stage Stoinis was 15(16) and Wade was 8(9). With 62 needed off the last five, both batsmen played their shots. Australia knew they could target Haris Rauf and Hasan Ali at the death. They played out Shaheen Afridi and hit Hasan Ali for 27 runs in his two overs at the death.
Australia played the matchups game very well. Stoinis took on the right-handed Hasan Ali and Rauf while Wade attacked the left-handed Shaheen Afridi. The two scoops that were played by Wade under immense pressure signified the audacity and courage of the modern-day T20 batsmen.
Both teams backed their strengths and succeeded. They will now lock horns in the finals of the T20 World Cup.