The Warner-Marsh Duo Gifts Australia Their First Ever T20 World Cup, New Zealand Remains Runners-Up Again!


Australia added to its feathers the first ever T20 World Cup by prevailing over New Zealand by  8 wickets in the final of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup-2021 in Dubai today. The final match has also turned out to be not as absorbing as the two semi-finals with the Australian chase seeming quite easy and the inevitable ‘toss advantage’ seemed to have sealed the match in their favor. As we have seen the team winning the toss invariably chooses to field first, restricts the opposition to less than 180 and wins the match by hauling up the target chasing with the dew or any favoring factor. Of course, in the semi-finals it was Daryl Mitchell’s charge at the death that won it for New Zealand against England and a similar finishing act was carried out by Matthew Wade for Australia upsetting a shocked Pakistan at the death. However, we had said earlier that the chasing team always overhauls the target, somehow, as has been observed throughout this tournament. This important final of a World Cup truly turns out to be another strong cause for tossing away the toss. This is not to deny Australia the credit for its professionalism and aggressiveness  whenever needed in crunch matches.

 

As in the semi-final against Pakistan Australia lost captain Aaron Finch early in the final too, but the team accelerated thanks to some real hitting by David Warner and Mitchell Marsh. Australia hauled up the first fifty runs in the sixth over while New Zealand took as many as nine overs. Thanks to the duo the ‘big brother’ fully dominated the proceedings as no Kiwi ‘kid’ bowler could control the free flow of runs all around the park. Warner raced to his 50 with a towering six off Neesham in 34 balls at the team score of 95/1 in the 11th over, almost cruising to victory at that stage. As a huge relief for the Kiwis Warner (53, declared the Player of the Tournament) fell soon to Boult in the 13th over, perhaps a tad too late for a comeback. Mitchell Marsh (77 not out in 50 balls) joined by Glen Maxwell (28 not out in 18 balls) treated the Kiwi bowlers with disdain hauling up the target with 7 balls to spare, Maxwell hitting the winning boundary.

 


Earlier, put into bat and thanks to Williamson’s masterful innings of 85 off 34 balls, the highest individual score by a captain in this World Cup, New Zealand set a target of 173 runs to win for Australia, and it was only a fighting total which their bowlers were miserably unable to defend. Except for Guptill (28) and Phillips (18) no NZ batsmen could contribute much while they had the launching pad for a 190+ total; the hero of the semi-final Daryl Mitchell could only score 11 runs in 8 balls and was the first to go. The last two overs were real dampeners for NZ despite the big-hitting partner of Mitchell in the semi-final, James Neesham, being very much around, finally remaining not out with just 13 runs. For Australia Hazelwood found his touch and captured three wickets for only 16 in 4 overs while all other Aussie bowlers were hit around the park, most surprisingly strike bowler Starc was hit for 60 runs in his 4 overs.

 

The jinx of ‘so close yet so far’ remains for the most deserving and the World Test Champion team of New Zealand still without any of the ICC World Cups in the shorter formats. They came very close to winning the ODI (one-day international) World Cup Finals of 2015 against Australia and of 2019 against England, but finally losing under controversial circumstances in the latter. Today, in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup-2021 final too New Zealand failed to prevail over big brother Australia. They again turned up as the runners-up yet again in an ICC World Cup tournament.

 


Thus, curtains on the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup-2021, a tournament scheduled to be held in Australia in 2020, venues changed twice and finally unfolding in Oman and UAE, after nearly a month of competitive cricket involving national pride, but impacted to some extent by low-scoring slow pitches and the advantage for the toss-winning team. There’d be another T20 World Cup in Australia in 2022, and hopefully, the pandemic permitting, that will be much tougher, competitive and absorbing. For the moment New Zealand is coming to India this month for 3 T20I matches and 2-match Test Series. Rohit Sharma will lead the team, several star players rested including Kohli, in the T20I matches starting from the 17th of November 2021. It is not yet clear about the captain of the Test series; if Kohli continues to be rested then Ajikya Rahane who led India to a spectacular victory against Australia in Australia is likely to be given the cap.

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