Australia romped home in rousing fashion to clinch their first-ever Men’s T20I World Cup, culminating a turnaround that was nothing short of extraordinary. Coming into the World Cup, Australia had lost their last five T20I series, had seen their coach nearly get a vote of no-confidence from a section of their players and looked far from favorites. But having already pulled off a coup by getting to the final, David Warner, Mitchell Marsh and Josh Hazlewood played stellar roles in the final as they crushed New Zealand, who were gunning for the second ICC trophy of the year. Australia’s chase of 172 was as clinical as it can be, giving them a sixth successful chase in the World Cup, after winning as many tosses through the tournament.
Sustained pressure from Australia…
With the benefit of a target (173) in sight, and knowing what the pitch had to offer, Australia were ruthless, aggressive right through the chase. They bore resemblance to careful planning and equally good execution. While skipper Aaron Finch fell early, trying to reverse the pressure on Trent Boult and getting caught in the deep, it was the same approach that persisted even after. Mitchell Marsh pulled the first ball he faced for a six, and followed it up with back-to-back boundaries against Adam Milne. David Warner, at the other end, took on Tim Southee cutting him for a couple of boundaries and lofting him for a six. Warner’s next assault came against New Zealand’s big spin threat of the middle overs – Ish Sodhi – who was tonked for 17 in his second over. By the halfway mark, Australia had raced away to 82.
Carrying it on till the end…
The onslaught never stopped coming from Australia. Jimmy Neesham was welcomed into the attack with a six apiece by Warner and Marsh. The former got to his fifty off 34 balls while it took Marsh only 31 to get to his. Williamson was forced to bring his best bowler of the day – Boult – back to try and stop Australia. He delivered by getting Warner bowled in the 13th over. But Australia’s aggressive approach was relentless, as Glenn Maxwell walked in. He too finished with an 18-ball 28 to put on an unbeaten 66-run stand with Marsh. That further accelerated Australia’s chase, taking them home eventually comfortable with Maxwell stamping their authority with a reverse slap to get the winnings runs.
In contrast, New Zealand had an innings of two halves…
The first ten overs of the innings saw New Zealand being kept in check, getting to just 57 despite losing only one wicket. Josh Hazlewood had New Zealand’s semifinal hero Daryl Mitchell nicking behind off a slower ball, and thereafter both Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson were content in just building a steady stand. Guptill had a strike rate of just 80 over 35 balls while Williamson got only 18 off his first 19 deliveries. The reason for them being kept quiet during this period was a credit to Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Adam Zampa. While the two fast bowlers stuck to change of pace and back of length deliveries to prevent the boundaries, Zampa was smart in playing with the longer boundaries and keeping his lines tight right through. He went through his first three overs without giving away a boundary, and also having Guptill caught on the fence, adding to New Zealand’s choke.
How did they break free?
Through Williamson, almost entirely. Just after the drinks break at the halfway mark, having got to 18 off 19, Williamson broke free against Mitchell Starc, after a slice of luck. He flicked a low full toss straight to Hazlewood at fine leg but was put down earning him a boundary too in the process. This was followed by two more fours – drive down the ground and a pull of a high full toss – in the same over as Starc conceded 19, kickstarting carnage. Williamson then hit Maxwell over midwicket for a couple of sixes before laying into Starc once again, hitting him for 22 in his next over and giving New Zealand some much-needed momentum, and a night to forget for Starc.
How did Williamson trump Starc?
Starc ended up giving 60 off his four overs, his most expensive figures ever in a T20I. And it largely came off lengths that were full, or when he missed the yorkers. Starc stuck to attempting his yorkers and was penalised every time he missed them. The fuller length, on this Dubai pitch, proved to be more hittable than the back of length offerings from the likes of Hazlewood and Cummins. The former got both Glenn Phillips and Williamson caught by taking the pace off which helped shave some runs off what New Zealand were threatening to get when Williamson got the better of Starc. But their 172 was still the highest score ever in a T20 World Cup final.
Until Marsh and Co. made it look ridiculously small.
Brief Scores: New Zealand 172/4 in 20 overs (Kane Williamson 85; Josh Hazlewood 3-16) lost to Australia 173/2 in 18.5 ov (Mitchell Marsh 77*, David Warner 53) by 8 wickets