Former England captain Mike Atherton said New Zealand are currently the ‘strongest side' across formats.

The Kane Williamson-led side beat England by five wickets in the first semi-final of T20 World Cup 2021 in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday to advance to reach their maiden final of an ICC event in the shortest format.

New Zealand have reached final of the last three ICC events in all formats. They lost to England in ODI World Cup final in 2019, beat India to win the inaugural Test Championship earlier this year and now are one step away from winning their maiden T20 title.

Atherton said it was fantastic achievement by New Zealand with limited personnel and money.

"They are an outstanding team, in all formats of the game really. 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," Atherton told 'Sky Sports'.

Batting first, England made a competitive 166 for 4. Moeen Ali struck an important fifty.

Chasing 167, the Black Caps were on the back foot when star opener Martin Guptill and skipper Kane Williamson were dismissed by Chris Woakes inside the first three overs of the reply.

England kept mounting pressure but opener Daryl Mitchell and Jimmy Neesham had other plans.

Mitchell blazed his away to an unbeaten 47-ball 72 before Neesham hit a flurry of sixes to give New Zealand the win.

"It just changed so quickly tonight. For a long time in that chase, I thought England were ahead of the game," Atherton said.

"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," Atherton said.