The T20 world cup is almost at an end. The grand finale will see New Zealand and Australia meet in the title clash on 14 November in Dubai. While most cricket observers predicted an England vs Pakistan final, New Zealand and Australia engineered upsets in the semi-finals. In a format that is geared for upsets, the results should not shock unduly. Interestingly, both matches were won by the toss-winning team who elected to bat second.
How New Zealand qualified for the final
Batting first against New Zealand, England posted 166/4 in their allotted overs. The relatively early loss of Jos Buttler’s wicket did not bode well for England. He was stroking the ball well and at 53/1 in the 9th over, England would have licked their collective lips in anticipation for a rerun of Buttler’s century against Sri Lanka in which he began quietly and accelerated when it mattered to get to his ton off the last ball of the innings. Though Dawid Malan (41 from 30 balls) and Moeen Ali (51 from 37) did try to compensate, in retrospect, England were about 20 runs short.
When New Zealand replied, they maintained the same run rate as England before them until the 15th over. A brilliant over from Liam Livingstone in which he took a wicket while conceding only 3 runs tilted the match in England’s favour. New Zealand needed 57 from 24 balls. In the next over from Jordan, Neesham plundered 23 runs to put his side firmly in control. The 18th over went for 14 runs for the loss of Neesham’s wicket. But with Daryl Mitchell batting on 53, NZ did not have too much to worry about. As things transpired, Mitchell got the remaining 20 runs in the 19th over from Woakes to propel New Zealand into the title clash.
How Australia qualified
Australia won the toss and predictably invited Pakistan to bat first. Pakistan had another fruitful opening partnership between Babar Azam and Md Rizwan, but once the skipper was out on the last ball of the 10th over, the innings wobbled as Fakhar Zaman, who had not had a good World Cup, took his time to settle down. But with Rizwan continuing in the same vein, Pakistan reached 117 without further loss of wickets at the end of the 15th over.
Zaman finds form
With wickets in hand, Pakistan were expected to get to a 180-plus score. But Zampa, bowling the 16th over, conceded just 5 runs. However, Zaman came into his own. After a flurry of wickets, Pakistan were poised at 161/3 at the end of the 19th over. Sixteen runs in the last over in which Zaman hoicked the last balls into stands saw Pakistan finish at 177/4 thanks to Zaman’s 55 from 34 balls.
Warner, Marsh steady innings after poor start
Australia got off to a bad start, losing Finch to the third ball of the innings from Shaheen Afridi. Marsh joined Warner, and the pair brought things under control until Marsh’s wicket in the 7th over with the scorecard reading 53/2. But as long as a free stroking Warner was at the crease, Australia were cruising along.
Successive sixes spell sensational finish
In a match of seesawing fortunes, four wickets to Shadab gave the advantage to Pakistan. But as it transpired, Stoinis and Wade came together in a match-winning partnership. With Australia needing 22 from 2 overs. After. Hasan Ali dropped a sitter at deep midwicket. Wade, who ran two on the dropped catch, created history by hitting the last three balls of the 19th over from Afridi for successive sixes to see Australia past the line.
Who will win the final?
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We have added this post script after the thrilling final between New Zealand and Australia. New Zealand posted what appeared to be a competitive total thanks to a brilliant 85 by skipper Williamson. But the Kiwis hadn’t reckoned for the timely return to form of Warner, Marsh and Maxwell, as Australia cruises to victory with eight wickets and an over to spare!