Australia and New Zealand both have a chance to make history when they clash in the 2021 T20 ICC Men’s World Championship final on Sunday. No nation has won the trophy before, but every team has made its way to the finals despite entering this year’s tournament as an unwanted contender this year.
New Zealand secured a place at the Dubai International Stadium by beating England in the last four. A dynamic bowling attack, led by pacemakers Trent Boult and Tim Southee, shaped the Black Caps’ progress. Meanwhile, Australia finally found some mojo with the bat to create an even bigger shock against Pakistan. David Warner hit 49 out of 30, while Marcus Stoinis and Matthew Wade put together an unbeaten 81.
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The Kiwis rely on Southee and Boult to crush an opposing order. Boult came to the competition with a lot of fanfare, but Southee has made his claim as New Zealand’s best player. The 32-year-old has taken eight wickets and found a savings rate of just 5.75.
Southee was particularly effective during the power play by relying on a simple strategy, according to Matt Roller of ESPNCricinfo:
There is room for Southee to vary his game based on Boult’s consistency. The left-handed player claimed 11 wickets, only two bowlers won more during the tournament. Black Caps captain Kane Williamson will be relying on Boult to secure further key layoffs.
It will be difficult to destroy the Australian innings if Warner is able to make another strong attempt at opening. His solid blow against Pakistan, which included three fours and as many sixes, offset skipper Aaron Finch, who was thrown for a duck by Shaheen Afridi. Warner’s average 47.20 runs over six innings, good enough for a commendable record of 236.
Warner has created controversy for buckling up a six from a double-bounce-no ball thrown by Mohammad Hafeez. Warner’s decision to attack a meaningless shipment has been criticized by some, including former India international Gautam Gambhir, according to Fraser Watson of the Daily mirror.
Whether Warner stuck to the spirit of the game is questionable, but what is certain is that Australia needs more of the middle order. Unfortunately for Finch, big names like Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell still don’t deliver. Smith checked only five runs out of six balls in the semifinals, while Maxwell got seven out of 10. Repeating such numbers gives New Zealand a chance to keep up with the racket.
The Black Caps were excellent to start an inning, with Daryl Mitchell collecting 72 runs out of 47 deliveries. Devon Conway added 46 to the total before Jimmy Neesham completed the middle order with a three-way trio en route to 27 key runs. Conway won’t be able to impress in the final after breaking a bone in his hand while hitting his racket after being thrown by Englishman Liam Livingstone.
Williamson will miss Conway after Martin Guptill struggled among the last four. It was an anomaly for Guptill, who leads his nation by 180 runs and has scored free goals against Australia in the past.
Dissecting the New Zealand Order will be Adam Zampa’s main task. He is a stylish leg break spin specialist who has taken 12 wickets. Zampa sacked Pakistani captain Babar Azam last time, but Mitchell Starc was the real star of the game. Starc, more of a natural pacemaker than Zampa, bowled 10 points and sent Mohammad Rizwan and Shoaib Malik out of the gate.
There isn’t much to choose between these two neighbors who followed almost identical paths to the final. New Zealand are entering the game in better health, however, and the depth of Williamson’s bowling attack should prove to be crucial.