Australia crush New Zealand to lift maiden T20 World Cup title in Dubai

Fifties from Warner and Marsh, after excellent bowling from Hazlewood, set up eight-wicket win on Sunday

Well, it was fun while it lasted. At least five other teams got a go at winning the T20 World Cup before Australia got the hang of it.

Now cricket’s most successful nation have ticked off the only major title to have eluded them, after beating New Zealand in a one-sided final at the Dubai International Stadium.

Given Australia have featured in almost half the World Cup finals which have ever been staged in the two limited-overs formats, it was a surprise it took them so long to win this one.

They might not have to wait too long to double up their haul, either. This tournament had initially been due to be staged in Australia, only for Covid to have its say.

In 12 months’ time, they will get the chance to defend their title on home soil. They were not favourites for this tournament in the UAE, but they might well be for the next one.

They might have needed a spectacular late run spree to win their semi-final against Pakistan. The final, by contrast, was a complete cruise.

Josh Hazlewood took 3-16, as he played a key role in a side wearing yellow winning a major title in Dubai for the second time in a month, having won the Indian Premier League with Chennai Super Kings in October.

David Warner banished the memory of his own pitiful IPL campaign in these same stadia with three telling contributions as the T20 World Cup reached its climax. And Mitchell Marsh had the honour of hitting the winning runs, to set the seal on the eight-wicket triumph with seven balls of the tournament left over.

In truth, the game had felt as good as over as soon as Aaron Finch was interviewed first at the toss. After hearing the news Australia were going to field first, spectators stuck in traffic en route to the game might have been minded to turn round and go home.

Even apart from the dominance of sides batting second at this ground in this competition, the flip of the coin is crucial in finals. Of the six T20 World Cup finals which had preceeded this one, only Pakistan, in 2009, had won after losing the toss.

Even before that, Australia had exuded calm. By the time they arrived at the ground – just after tremors were felt from an earthquake centring in Iran – New Zealand were already well into their full-on, pre-game warm up.

By contrast, Australia’s players exerted themselves with little more strenuous activity than a few throw downs, and some games of keepy-uppy with a football.

New Zealand’s top-orders batters looked uptight when they made it to the crease, especially in the face of probing bowling from Hazlewood and Pat Cummins.

They posted their lowest Powerplay score of the competition, 32 for one, and Martin Guptill crawled to 28 from 35 balls.

At least Kane Williamson stood up to the onslaught. He had one notable slice of good fortune in doing so. New Zealand’s captain had made 21 off his first 21 balls when he was dropped on the boundary by Hazlewood off Mitchell Starc.

He laced the next ball for four – and took his last 26 balls for 60 runs as he made 85 from 48 balls.

His was the major contribution in New Zealand’s total of 172-4. Although that was – at that point – the highest score in a T20 World Cup final, bettering West Indies last time out in India, it felt a long way short of what was required.

The Black Caps did have some early joy in the reply, as Finch continued his miserable run in ICC knockout matches by being dismissed for five by Trent Boult.

Marsh signalled his intent, though, as he blazed 14 off the first three balls he faced, all from Adam Milne.

Once he and Warner, who made 53, had put on 92 for the second wicket, the game was as good as done.

Marsh himself finished unbeaten on 77. Glenn Maxwell reverse swept the winning runs away through third man off Tim Southee to start the party for Australia.

Updated: November 15th 2021, 5:44 AM
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