T20 World Cup Final: Australia Vs New Zealand!

After many twists and turns and tosses the two neighbors down under have come around to meet each other in the Final of the ICC T20 Men’s World Cup-2021 to be held on Sunday, 14th November in Dubai. Australia, the Group-1 second-spot holder today became the first team of the tournament to beat Pakistan by 5 wickets with one over to spare in a thriller of a second semi-final match in  Dubai. Pakistan captain Babar Azam lost the toss to Australia captain Finch this time in this crucial encounter and was naturally put into bat. The Pakistan fans crowding the stadium in huge numbers were in tremendous spirits witnessing their team winning all the matches with ease and brilliance with good consistent batting and having perhaps the best bowling attack of the tournament.  


The in-form opener duo Azam and Rizwan made an electrifying start firing all cylinders as Pakistan tried their best to neutralize the loss of the toss and the possible dew factor later in the evening. There were three good knocks: 67 runs by Rizwan, 55 not out by Zaman and 39 by Babar. They put up a challenging 177 target to win for Australia, but perhaps not enough. A target of 190+ looked possible as Pakistan had wickets in hand, but failures of Asif and Malik made the total fall short by at least 15 runs. The Aussie bowlers were delivering too many loose balls, no-balls, wides and mostly not able to maintain tight length helping Pakistan accelerate. The way Hazelwood and Cummins were hit around the park with a lot of ease reflected the determination of the Pak batsmen to set up a challenging target and enter the final where they were to meet New Zealand whom they had beaten already in a Group-2 match.    


The Aussies started badly, losing captain Finch in the first over to the fiery Shaheen Afridi and Pakistan prevented them from racing away to a good powerplay score. Only from the 4th over David Warner and Marsh started playing attacking shots achieving the 50-run mark in the 6th over. Marsh soon fell for 28 runs to Shadab Khan and the latter (4/26) with his deadly spin went on to capture the quick wickets of Smith (5), Maxwell (7) and Warner (49) reducing Australia to 96/5 in the 13th over turned the match almost conclusively in Pakistan’s favor. And then, the incredible partnership happened between Stoinis (40 not out in 31 balls) and Matthew Wade (41 not out in just 17 balls) which was rather slow in the beginning, but picked steadily bringing back the momentum. Needing 18 runs from the last two overs Wade finished the match in the 19th over by hitting three intelligent sixes off the bowling of none other than Shaheen Afridi. However, the initial charge and anchoring of David Warner must be credited.


Pakistan who finished the group stage unbeaten lost the semi-final, but not without a great fight and a strong will to reach the final and win the Cup for the second time. India needs to learn from Pakistan as their batsmen focused on attacking the bowlers fearlessly while the Indian batsmen were mostly on the defensive which was made worse by poor team selection. Australia never won the T20 World Cup, and now they have a big chance of winning by prevailing over their kid brother in the Final on 14th November in Dubai. However, New Zealand is no pushover. They were the runners-up in the ICC World Cup-2019 and unfortunately lost to England in that controversial final; but in the first semi-final they avenged it by preventing England reach the final this time.


So, Matthew Wade took his team into the final at the death like Daryl Mitchell did for New Zealand against a very good team of England with his incredible late charge of 72 runs off just 47 balls. This has been the advantage of winning the toss, because the chasing team somehow gets to the target after restricting the opposition to less than 180 in most encounters. However, in this match the Aussie tactics were a bit inexplicable: first, their famed fast bowlers kept on bowling wayward, never bowling to their potential and about the spinners the less said the better; second, several Australian batsmen surrendered meekly, never looking like taking efforts; and thirdly and most prominently, Warner did not ask for a review of his caught behind decision as the replays later showed the ball did not touch the bat at all.


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