After 25 days of breath-taking action, the finalists for the T20 World Cup have been decided. The Black Caps won a thrilling semifinal against 2016 runners-up England, triumphing in a match that was billed as a rematch of their 2019 50-over World Cup final.
It is the third straight ICC final they have made across three formats, having clinched the inaugural World Test Championship title earlier this year and finished runners-up in the 2019 Cricket World Cup. They were also runners up in 2015, giving them a run of three World Cup finals across four limited-overs competitions, with the 2016 T20 World Cup the outlier.
Australia qualified for the summit clash after beating Pakistan. Chasing 177 to win, the Australians looked in trouble at 157 in the 19th over only for the match to swing in the space of three balls as Matthew Wade enchased on a dropped catch, slamming three consecutive maximums to seal the game.
Road to the final:
The Black Caps’ T20 World Cup campaign got off to a shaky start when they were defeated by Pakistan in their opening game and the nature of their loss raised questions over the Kane Williamson-led New Zealand’s credentials as contenders.
They put those questions to rest crushing India by eight wickets, with Trent Boult doing the majority of the damage as India were restricted to 110. The Kiwis chased it down with five and a half overs to spare. Scotland then came within 16 runs of chasing down a target of 172 and there was a scare against Namibia too, but by the time the Kiwis reached their final group match, they made no mistake crushing Afghanistan to again seal their spot in the final. It was Boult and Tim Southee who did much of the damage to restrict Afghanistan to 124/8, and the chase was comfortable.
In the semifinal, they were pitted against England and New Zealand seemed to struggling to get going chasing 167. With the Kiwis needing 57 off 24 deliveries, Jimmy Neesham turned the tide with a 23-run over in which he contributed 19. Daryl Mitchell saw the Kiwis home, finishing unbeaten on 72 off 47 to win with an over to spare.
He has brought momentum to the Black Caps in Powerplays and given them the solidity of Devon Conway in the middle-order. In New Zealand’s opening loss again Pakistan he made 27 off 20, and was impressive in their win over India with 49 off 35. In the semis, he produced one of the tournament’s finest innings to date, anchoring a chase of 167, before finishing with an unbeaten 72 off 47.
The star fast bowler has been proving both dangerous and economical. His 3/20 against India set New Zealand on a path that would see them win four ‘Super 12’ matches on the trot to reach the semis.
The final-over win over South Africa at the start of the Super 12 stage was an important result. Aaron Finch’s team first reduced South Africa to 23/3 inside the Powerplay and restricted them to 118/9. At 81/5, a win looked improbable for Australia before they won with two balls to spare. Their campaign picked up steam as they crushed Sri Lanka, with openers Aaron Finch and David Warner finding form.
There was a huge setback when England crushed Australia by eight wickets with 50 balls to spare. Thankfully, for Australian that net run rate damage was short-lived, as they bowled Bangladesh out for 73 next up. They then chased it down in just 38 balls, more than making up for the run rate loss to England. Another eight-wicket win over West Indies proved enough. Against Pakistan in the semifinals, Australia timed their chase perfectly, getting home with an over to spare.
With 236 runs at an average of 47.20, the opener has gone from Australia’s worry at the top of the order to their most in-form batter. Warner has two half-centuries in this T20 World Cup but his most important performance came against Pakistan in the semis where his 49 set the chase up for the Kangaroos.
Only Sri Lanka’s Wanindu Hasaranga has taken more wickets than the Australian mystery spinner. His ability through the middle overs has been important for Australia, and it was he and Glenn Maxwell who put the brakes on Pakistan’s fast start before the leggie dismissed Babar Azam. In an attack that features Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood, it speaks volumes that Zampa is undisputedly the star of the bowling pack.