After plenty of nail-biting action in the semi-finals, only two teams remain in the reckoning to win the T20 World Cup. Trans-Tasman rivals Australia and New Zealand will battle it out in the final at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Sunday in a bid to claim a piece of silverware that has eluded them so far.
The 2021 T20 World Cup final is upon us and it will be Australia and New Zealand who will face off on Sunday in a rematch of the 2015 50-over World Cup final. Both Aaron Finch’s side and Kane Williamson’s outfit have overcome the odds to reach the tournament decider. And after coming from behind to stun Pakistan and England respectively in the semi-finals, both teams will be full of confidence heading into Sunday’s showpiece event.
New Zealand booked their ticket to the final after eliminating favourites England in the last four. Few would have expected them to come out on top when they needed 57 runs off the final four overs. But they got the job done with an over to spare thanks to some stunning batting carnage from James Neesham and Daryl Mitchell.
It was a timely reminder that New Zealand, who have often relied on their bowlers to get them over the line in the shortest format of the game, also have a destructive batting order that is capable of taking on any attack in the world. Although they will be a bit shortchanged on Sunday, with Devon Conway ruled out of the final after fracturing his hand during the semi-final. It appears that Tim Seifert will come into the team to replace his fellow wicket-keeper batter.
Australia have had a much more difficult run to the final than their neighbours. But their last three games have featured a great mix of ruthlessness, know-how, an utter lack of nerves and a never say die attitude. The 2015 50-over World Cup winners looked down and out at 5-96 while chasing 177 in their semi-final against Pakistan. But Matthew Wade and Marcus Stoinis stepped up to take Australia over the line and give them a great chance of winning the T20 World Cup for the first time in their history.
Few would have expected New Zealand and Australia to be the two teams to reach the final. After all, both teams were convincingly beaten by Bangladesh in their last bilateral T20I series going into the tournament. But here they are, one game away from making history.
Players to Watch
Daryl Mitchell has been New Zealand’s surprise package at the World Cup so far, scoring 197 runs at an impressive strike rate of 140. The all-rounder has shown great adaptability with his batting performances, playing the anchor role when need be and hitting the accelerator at the perfect time. He was the star of the show in New Zealand’s incredible chase against England, scoring an unbeaten 72 off just 47 balls. He will be crucial for the Kiwis once again on Sunday, but he will have faced few bigger tests than the one the Aussie bowlers will pose.
Adam Zampa has been proven to be a real handful at this World Cup, taking the second most wickets and having the best bowling figures in an innings
Australia have relied on big performances from a number of their stars over the course of the T20 World Cup, but their most consistent performer has arguably been David Warner. The opening batter went into the tournament with his confidence in pieces after a dismal IPL. But the way he has batted at the T20 World Cup has been nothing short of spectacular. Warner was set to lead Australia to a comfortable win in the semi-final before being wrongly given out for 49. And he will be keen on delivering the goods for his country with another dominant display in the final.
Australia and New Zealand have surprisingly only faced each other 14 times in T20I cricket. The Aussies have had the upper hand, winning nine of those games. But the Kiwis did come out on top when these two sides met in a five-match series earlier this year. The form book often goes out the window in games like this one though. And expect another close fought encounter between two teams that have shown their incredible class over the course of the tournament so far.
Australia Expected Playing XIs
Aaron Finch (c), David Warner, Mitchell Marsh, Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade (wk), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa, Josh Hazlewood
New Zealand Expected Playing XIs
Martin Guptill, Daryl Mitchell, Kane Williamson (c), Tim Seifert (wk), Glenn Phillips, Jimmy Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Adam Milne, Ish Sodhi