After four weeks of intense action, the ICC T20 World Cup 2021 is down to its final destination, where a new champion will be crowned. Australia and New Zealand will square off in the ultimate clash at Dubai on November 14.
NZ are coming into the final on the back of a spectacular victory against tournament favourites England in the first semi-final. The Kiwi bowlers did remarkably well to restrict England’s strong batting line-up to only 166/4 on a good batting deck.
Chasing the target, the Kiwis had found themselves in a big hole. But with 57 needed off the last four, Jimmy Neesham played an incredible knock of 27 off 11 while Daryl Mitchell finished things off with his 72* off 47. With this victory, the Black Caps made their third consecutive ICC World final.
Australia, to the surprise of many, have had an outstanding tournament and defeated Pakistan in the second semi-final, who went unbeaten in the group stage. Batting first, Pakistan posted 176/4 in 20 overs on the back of Mohammad Rizwan’s 67 off 52 and Fakhar Zaman’s unbeaten 55 off 32.
David Warner kept the Aussies in front until he was on the crease, scoring 49 off 30. Needing 62 off 30 balls, Marcus Stoinis (40* off 31) and Matthew Wade’s magnificent 17-ball 41* took Australia over the line with one over to spare.
Two semi-finals, that had very similar trajectories were highly entertaining. Expect an enthralling clash between the two finalists in what would be a rematch of the 2015 ODI World Cup.
David Warner has the claim on being one of top 3 greatest T20 batters of all time. The left hander has barely any weakness and can take on any bowling type. Warner has scored 10255 runs in the T20 format averaging 38 at a strike rate of 141.
He has been exceptional in the tournament, scoring 236 runs in six innings at an average of 47 and strike rate of 148. He has smashed 89* off 56, and 49 off 30 in the last two innings and will be a key player against NZ spin duo if he survives the new ball movement.
Tim Southee, who wasn’t a great T20 bowler for years, has evolved immensely, using his lengths and movement to great effect. He has been outstanding for New Zealand in this tournament, picking eight wickets in six matches and hasn’t conceded more than 26 in any of the spells.
Southee will be a key factor with his new ball skills upfront against Warner. In his overall career, he has 107 wickets from 89 matches with best figures of 5/19.
Adam Zampa has been an integral part of Australia’s bowling attack in limited-overs cricket. The skilful leg-spinner has done a great job for the team in T20Is, picking 64 wickets in 56 games at an economy of 6.81, including one five-fer and four three-fers.
Zampa has been sensational in the ongoing WC, having taken 12 scalps in six matches at an exceptional economy of 5.69, including a career-best 5 for 19 against Bangladesh.
Daryl Mitchell, the strong hitter who started as a lower middle order batter, has done an excellent job for NZ in this world cup. He has been terrific at the top of the order, amassing 197 runs in six innings at an average of 39 while striking at 141.
Mitchell played a crucial role in the semi-final against England, smashing unbeaten 74 off 47 to take the team over the line.
As far as the head to head record is concerned, Australia lead with nine victories to New Zealand’s five. They have faced each other only once in World T20s, where the Kiwis had claimed a victory by 8 runs.
New Zealand have deployed a bowling-heavy strategy with five quality bowling options and Neesham as the sixth option. Their bowlers and tactics have been pretty spot on. Australia have four quality bowlers with the all-rounders sharing the fifth bowler’s quota. But they have missed their lengths often and were taken apart.
The New Zealand batting unit can be vulnerable, and Neesham has had to bail them out twice already. The loss of Conway due to an injury further weakens their side. Australia’s deep batting line-up approach has served them well. Warner’s form is their biggest strength while Marsh, Stoinis and Wade have made important contributions.
Overall, Australia have the edge over the Kiwis, but as the tournament has shown, the toss is likely to play a massive role at Dubai.