Daryl Mitchell scored 53 runs despite New Zealand’s seven-wicket loss against Pakistan. (Photo: Izhar Khan)

After crashing out of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, experienced New Zealand all-rounder Daryl Mitchell is keeping perspective on what has been yet another deep run in a major tournament for the Blackcaps.

The Kiwis were outplayed by a Pakistan outfit, eager to atone for a semi-final exit in the UAE 12 months ago. Needing to defend 153 with the ball, New Zealand bore the brunt of a destructive 105-run opening partnership between Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam, ultimately proving to be the difference in the match.

Speaking to the media post-game, Mitchell believed that his side was still well and truly in the contest at the change of innings. 

“We’re obviously gutted to lose a semi-final of a World Cup and I think as a group we created chances tonight to win that game, especially at the halfway mark,” Mitchell told the media.

“I thought we had a total there that would be challenging on that surface, [but] it just wasn’t meant to be today. Take your cap off to Pakistan [for] the way they chased that total down and they head on to the final and fair play to them.”

For New Zealand, defeat at the SCG represents yet another heartbreaking exit from a World Cup, continuing the Kiwis’ long wait for glory. Externally, question marks may be raised as to whether the scars of painful past defeats will linger amongst the playing group. 

However, as Billie Jean King once famously said, “Pressure is a privilege”. In a similar vein, Mitchell says that the opportunity to play in big games with the ultimate success in close reach is worth continuing to strive for. 

“I think there’s a number of guys who are experiencing tournaments for the first couple of times and for us we’re just really proud to represent our country at a World Cup,” Mitchell explained.

“To be here at the back end of the tournament, a chance to push for a trophy, is why you play the game, and to be in moments like that tonight was pretty special.”

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Individually, Mitchell performed admirably for his side, amassing an unbeaten 53 off 35 balls to guide New Zealand to a respectable total. This follows a match-winning knock of 72 runs off 47 deliveries against England in the semi-final of last year’s edition of the T20 World Cup. 

Whilst pleased with his own performance, the overall outcome remains at the forefront of Mitchell’s mind. 

“It’s always nice to contribute to the team and to do it on a big stage is cool. But I play the game to try and win games of cricket and I’m a competitor at heart so at the moment [I’m] pretty gutted to lose,” Mitchell said.

Having only secured a spot in the semi-finals on a dramatic final day of the Super 12s, Pakistan appears to be riding a wave of momentum in the latter stages of the tournament. Urged on by a sea of adoring fans at the SCG, the Pakistanis quickly had the Kiwis on the back foot from the outset. 

Mitchell believes that the nature of cricket means that winning isn’t a given for any side, a sentiment that has been highlighted on numerous occasions in recent weeks.

“I think just every team can win on the day. I think we’ve seen throughout this tournament that anyone can beat anyone, and it takes a couple of key little moments that define games.”

“There were a couple more tonight that defined this one and I think in world cricket it’s awesome to see that anyone can beat anyone on that day.”

Now with the curtains closed on New Zealand’s quest to make history on Aussie soil, a return home will offer both Mitchell and his teammates time to reflect on the past month of cricket. 

“I think us as Kiwis we’re pretty good at sort of I guess sitting down and having a quiet beer together and reflecting on what has been a successful campaign for us in many ways,” Mitchell explained.

“To be here at the back end of a World Cup is always special. We’re just a little country with five million people so we’re just a bunch of Kiwis going out there and taking on the world.”

“We’ll sit and have a quiet beer and then we’ll get home over the next day or two and I’ll mow my lawns and probably reflect on what’s happened.”

Moving forward and Mitchell refuses to accept that New Zealand will be defined by its premature exit this time around.

“We know that it is a game of cricket. Someone has to win, and someone has to lose. That doesn’t define who you are as a person or who you are as a team.”

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