Australian cricketers celebrate after winning the T20 World Cup final against New Zealand in Dubai on Sunday night. AP
Mohammad Abdullah, Senior Sports Reporter
Riding on a blitzkrieg fifties by David Warner and Mitchell Marsh, Australia rekindled their romance with the ICC tournaments with an eight-wicket victory against New Zealand in the final of the T20 World Cup in Dubai.
Australia finally ended their jinx by winning the elusive T20 World Cup title in the seventh attempt. This was the only silverware, which was missing from their trophy-laden cabinet. Before this, they had come closest to lifting the crown in 2010, only to be denied by England in the final.
They rubbed the salt on the New Zealand’s wounds by beating them in the second title showdown in six years albeit in a different format this time, making a light work of a target of 173. Kangaroos had defeated the Trans-Tasman rivals in the final of the 50-over World Cup in 2015. They also maintained their dominance over New Zealand in the knock-out matches, winning 16 of 17 clashes till date.
After Trent Boult had pushed Australia on the back foot by an early dismissal of Aaron Finch, Warner took the onus on his shoulder and played a sheet-anchor role.
He along with Marsh added 92 runs for the second wicket to stitch the innings and keep Australia in hunt. Warner showed a steely resolute as he played with determination to keep New Zealand bowlers at bay.
All the Kiwi’s bowlers were meted out with same treatment except Boult, who bowled an impressive first spell. Both Marsh and Warner played sensibly and took the match deep before cutting loose. Warner was the more brutal of the two as he brought up third fifty of the tourney with a six, scoring a whopping 289 in the showpiece event in seven innings.
Boult got rid of the dangerman in his second spell but it was too late and the damage had been done. After the dismissal of Warner, Marsh stepped up and took the charge in hands.
Australian cricketers celebrate after winning the T20 World Cup final. AP
Marsh and Glenn Maxwell shared an unbeaten 66-run stand for the third wicket to see Australia home with seven balls to spare. Marsh remained unbeaten on 77, hitting six boundaries and four sixes.
Earlier, Hazlewood got Daryl Mitchell caught by Wade to give Australia the first breakthrough. After losing the first wicket with just 28 runs on the board, New Zealand mellowed down and trod along cautiously as trying to avoiding stamping on some mine, which could trigger a collapse.
Williamson led from the front and smacked a whirlwind fifty. He along with Martin Guptill knuckled down to mend the innings. The plan was clear -- not to lose the wickets and go after the bowlers in the second half of the innings.
Both the batsmen played sensibly and kept the scoreboard ticking with single and doubles, hitting occasional boundaries to share a 48-run partnership for the second wicket.
Seeing the opportunity, Finch squeezed in Maxwell and Marsh to bowl the quota of the fifth bowler in the middle of the innings. Both did fairly well until New Zealand batsmen changed gears in the 13th over and took 16 runs off it bowled by Maxwell.
Both Marsh and Maxwell conceded a combined 39 runs – 21 less than given by Mitchell Starc in his four overs -- as Maxwell went for 28 in three overs while Marsh gave away 11 in his one.
But to the dismay of Australia, a rampaging Williamson decided to cut loose and became almost unstoppable. He raced to his fifty with a six. Guptill holed out to Stoinis off Zampa at the boundary after scoring a painstakingly slow 28 off 35 balls.
Williamson plays shots during the final match. AP/ AFP
Williamson added another 68 runs with Glenn Philips in just six overs. He plundered 22 runs of Starc’s over to spur the run rate. Hammering of the pace spearhead prompted Finch to think of more options as Starc had already conceded 50 runs in just three overs.
Finch once again showed his confidence in Pat Cummins, who had bowled a wonderful penultimate over against Pakistan in the semi-final, giving away only three runs.
He lived up to the expectations of his captain and pulled it back for Australia. He choked the free flow of runs and bowled a tight 18th over, giving away just 8 runs off it.
Daryl Mitchell plays a shot during the T20 World Cup final. AFP
New Zealand, who at one stage looked set to reach 190-run mark, failed to capitalize on the platform. They were frustrated by Cummins and played some reckless shots.
The Kiwis lost quite a few wickets in quick succession and fell short of 10-15 runs than expected. Hazlewood got rid of both Philip and Williamson as Australia clawed back into the game.
Philip was taken by Maxwell while Williamson’s marathon innings came to an abrupt run with a simple catch which landed in the safe hands of Smith at long-off.
"I think young players should see him as a role model as he is still competing with them in domestic events and that shows how mentally strong he has been. "He is looking good and that shows he wants to go on a high."
Asif Ali stole the show with a quick-fire 12-ball 27 cameo after Haris Rauf took four for to help Pakistan set up a five-wicket victory against New Zealand in their T20 World Cup match at Sharjah Stadium on Tuesday.
Skipper Babar scored a polished 47-ball-66 for his 24th fifty in Twenty20 internationals, and his fourth in five matches, while Malik smashed an 18-ball 54 not out as Pakistan posted 189-4 in their 20 overs.
"If India comes in the final, then it would be very good for the International Cricket Council, fans around the world and for world cricket," he said. "That will bring the two countries closer. For me, it should be a win for love and defeat for hate."
The tournament will be held over the weekend of Feb.18-19, 2023 at Zayed City Sports Stadium, an iconic landmark in Abu Dhabi and the largest multi-purpose sports venue in the UAE.
The 73-year-old was on his way back home from Cape Town to Despatch in Eastern Cape, after a golf weekend when the tragic incident took place. Three others were also killed in the crash.
The Emirati driver is determined to shrug off last month’s setback in Poland where a race error from one of the backmarkers put him out this season’s opening round.