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Cricket | New Zealand capitulate as Australia win maiden T20 World Cup Title in Dubai

OPINION |

Australia lifted their maiden ICC Men’s T20 World Cup title on Sunday night in the UAE after beating New Zealand in a one-sided contest, managing the 173-run target with eight wickets and seven balls in hand.

Australia T20 captain, Aaron Finch managed the victory despite a series of poor showings throughout the competition, on the back of a horror show in Bangladesh and five consecutive losses in T20I series. By keeping a low profile, changing their batting combinations and a bit of luck with coin tosses, earned them the coveted trophy.

Kane Williamson versus Mitchell Starc

Batting first after losing the toss, New Zealand captain, Kane Williamson with his fellow BlackCaps posted a challenging total of 172/4 in 20 overs. They were not looking like crossing the 150-run mark at one stage, but a special captain’s knock from Williamson got them there. His blistering 85 off 48 deliveries was the joint-highest score with Marlon Samuel’s 85* in the 2015 T20 World Cup final.

The BlackCaps skipper spanked left-arm quick Mitchell Starc for 19 runs in an over, to hand the Australian bowler his most expensive figures of his international career to date. Starc went on to concede a whopping 60 runs without taking a single wicket in the game.

It’s fair to say that the speed gun was lucky to end up on the winning side, as critical scrutiny may have  potentially ended his T20 International career. This was the most expensive figure by a bowler in a T20 World Cup final, of which 41 runs were scored by Kane Williamson. His figures broke Sri Lanka’s Lasith Malinga’s record of conceding 54 runs off four overs against the West Indies in the 2012 final in Colombo.

Warner & Marsh lead the charge for the Aussies

Aaron Finch’s faith in David Warner paid-off big time. The left-handed batsman was coming into the tournament low-spirited, after being ousted by the Sunrisers Hyderabad’s playing XI in the recently concluded Indian Premier League (IPL) season.

He was not middling the ball well and scoring at a considerably low strike rate however, everything changed for Warner when he donned the canary yellow outfit. After smashing 49 runs against Pakistan in the semi-finals, he coupled it with a 53 off 38 deliveries in the Cup final. His quick-fire fifty put Australia in the driving seat early in the powerplay.

His partnership with Man of the Match winner, Mitchell Marsh, was too much to handle for the NZ pace cartel on the Dubai pitch. The ball was skidding on the surface, no swing was on offer, nor the ball was actively spinning with the infamous dew coming in the second half.

After a consistent showing with the bat prior to the World Cup, Finch promoted Marsh to Number 3 and his 85 not out in the finals showed how the Australian skipper’s decision was inch-perfect.

Did the coin toss spoil the fun in the UAE?

Wickets in the UAE have always been known to favor chasing sides. This is because when the dew arrives, it makes the ball harder to grip for the bowlers and tougher to hold catches. The ball comes on to the bat nicely, leaving bowling sides with a mountain to climb.

Unfortunately, this tournament was no different. In the semi-finals, New Zealand chased the 167-run target with an over to spare and the Aussies reached 177 against Pakistan with an over in hand as well.

After winning the final while chasing, Aaron Finch admitted that winning the toss in knockout games helped his side.

“It did play a big factor, to be honest. I tried to play it down as much as I could because I thought, at some point in the tournament, I’m going to lose a toss and we’ll have to bat first.

But it did play a big part. You saw out there at the end there was the dew factor: the slower balls weren’t holding in the wicket as much. I don’t know how I did it – maybe it was just fate.”

Aaron Finch, Australian T20 Captain

Early favorites: Pakistan, England light up the tournament

Experts had predicted a Pakistan vs England game for the big dance, but fate had other plans. England were a dominant side from the beginning, while Pakistan were unbeatable in the Super 12.

The men in green began their campaign with a relieving 10-wicket win over Virat Kohli’s India. Babar Azam, scored the most runs in the competition (303), and Muhammad Rizwan were the pick of the batters for Pakistan.

The opening duo never let any team get away with loose deliveries in the first 10 overs. They would always set a formidable platform for the likes of Muhammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Fakhar Zaman and Asif Ali to give a finishing touch to what they had started.

Similarly for England, Jos Buttler starred with the bat for Eoin Morgan’s side. The England wicket-keeper is the only player to have scored a century in this competition.

Pakistan and England’s exit in the semi-finals showed that there are no deserving or undeserving candidates in cricket, only the teams that perform better than the opposition on the given day propel.

See you soon at the 2022 T20 World Cup in Australia.


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