Delivering on the biggest stage is where it really matters. And New Zealand and Australia have done just that to set up an ICC Men’s T20 World Cup final that few predicted.
It all started when Oman won the toss and elected to bowl against Papua New Guinea four weeks ago. And forty-four matches, 11153 runs and 485 wickets later, the 16 nations that began this thrilling tournament have been whittled down to just two.
Sunday’s showpiece at the Dubai International Stadium will see the world’s fourth-ranked side New Zealand take on the country ranked sixth, Australia. And it’s a fitting finale to decide who will lift the T20 World Cup trophy after a tournament of twists and turns, highs and lows, upsets and hammerings.
Yet just because few predicted this would be the final line-up, doesn’t mean the players didn’t believe. And Aussie skipper Aaron Finch was in boisterous form on precisely that topic in his media conference on Saturday.
“I’m not surprised one bit,” he said. “I think we came here with a really clear plan to win the tournament, and we still feel as though we’ve got the squad to do that.”
A glance down the likely team sheet for Sunday’s final supports the captain’s claim. Mitchell Starc, David Warner, Pat Cummins, Glenn Maxwell, Finch – there’s an abundance of talent and experience in the Australian line-up.
Add to that the qualities of Adam Zampa, who has taken 12 wickets in the tournament so far – more than any other bowler to enter at the Super 12 stage – and it’s little surprise that this is a squad who have been able to beat higher-ranked and higher-fancied outfits.
The term ‘higher-fancied outfit’ has rarely, if ever, been used to describe Kane Williamson’s New Zealand… even if it should be.
The cliches flow thick and fast in conversation about the Black Caps. They’ve “flown under the radar” and come up on the rails as “dark horses”, but naturally you can “never write off” New Zealand. It’s language that almost goes hand-in-hand with this extraordinary era of Kiwi cricket. But it does so for a reason.
2019 World Cup finalists, World Test Champions, and now 2021 T20 World Cup finalists, this group of players have proven time and again that they are among the world’s best across all three formats.
And Sunday’s all-Antipodean clash in Dubai represents a chance for Kane Williamson and his boys to cap off a stunning calendar year by finally adding a white-ball trophy to the cabinet, where it will sit alongside the World Test Championship mace. Many will bet against them once again, but you’d be brave to do so.
- The match: New Zealand v Australia, Match 45
- Time: 18:00 local time, Sunday 14 November 2021
- Venue: Dubai International Stadium
Adam Zampa, Australia: The leg-spinner has been a key part of his side’s run to the final and will play a key role against a New Zealand side who aren’t averse to going after slower bowling. If he can continue his terrific record throughout the tournament it will put pressure on the Black Caps to take on the high-quality seamers.
Martin Guptill, New Zealand: The Kiwi opener didn’t fire against England, but his side will be looking for him to get them off to a flier at the top of the order against Australia, particularly given the safety blanket of Conway in the middle-order has been removed. Guptill has the game to take down Australia’s attack, can he do it on the biggest stage?
The injury to Conway means New Zealand will be forced into making a change. Tim Seifert is likely to come in as wicketkeeper, with the bowling-heavy balance unchanged, although the loss of the reliable presence of Conway in the middle-order could potentially see an additional batter brought in for stability.
Probable New Zealand XI: Martin Guptill, Daryll Mitchell, Kane Williamson (captain), Tim Seifert, Glenn Phillips, James Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Adam Milne, Trent Boult, Ish Sodhi
Australia are highly likely to stick with the side that saw off Pakistan in the semi-finals
Probable Australia XI: David Warner, Aaron Finch (captain), Mitchell Marsh, Steven Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa, Josh Hazlewood
Expert Dream11 Fantasy Tips
Captaincy Pick – David Warner: Australia’s opening batsman has turned his form around in the T20 World Cup. His performance proved vital for Australia as he topped the run charts for his side with 236 runs in 6 matches. The final match will be played at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium and Warner’s record at the same venue makes him the top captaincy pick of the match where he has scored 298 runs at an average of 42.5 in 8 T20I innings.
Must-have – Trent Boult: The left-arm pacer has to be a must-have in a fantasy team given he is the top wicket-taker for New Zealand in the tournament with 11 wickets from 6 matches. Adding to it, he has been taking wickets at an impressive bowling strike rate of 12.9 in the UAE.
What they said
Kane Williamson, New Zealand captain: “I think ultimately the side has been operating well as a collective and certainly playing for each other. You know, obviously we saw a pretty exciting semi-final. Both semi-finals actually were somewhat similar, where you do see moments in games that are match-defining, and you see games that can take quite a sharp turn when you have some key performances.”
Aaron Finch: “We came here with a clear plan to try to win this tournament. We always felt as though we’ve got the depth of the squad and the quality in our squad to put ourselves in a position to do that. And New Zealand, they have been in every final for a long time now in ICC events. They are a great team over all three formats of the game.”
(Source and courtesy: https://www.t20worldcup.com/)