Australia's Mitchell Marsh and Australia's Glenn Maxwell celebrate after winning the ICC Men's T20 World Cup final match against New Zealand, at Dubai International Stadium in Dubai on 14 November 2021. | Photo: ANI
Australia's Mitchell Marsh and Australia's Glenn Maxwell celebrate after winning the ICC Men's T20 World Cup final match against New Zealand, at Dubai International Stadium in Dubai on 14 November 2021. | Photo: ANI
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New Delhi: As Glenn Maxwell’s reverse-swipe past short third man reached the boundary in the 19th over, fireworks went off at the Dubai International Stadium Sunday, announcing the arrival of the new ICC Men’s T20 world champions.

In a classic Trans-Tasman final, Australia beat New Zealand by eight wickets, with seven balls to spare, to deny the Black Caps white-ball championship yet again.

Emotions ran high when captain Aaron Finch’s men ran to the crease the moment Aussies logged in their maiden T20 world title. And a thrilled Mitchell Marsh, who took the Aussies home with an unbeaten 77 off 50, stood in the middle soaking in his team’s adulation.

The victory came after Australia won the toss and — unsurprisingly — sent in the Kiwis to bat first. After minor setbacks at the hands of Josh Hazlewood and Adam Zampa early in the game, NZ captain Kane Williamson made a scintillating 85 off 48, helping the team set up a challenging target of 173.

But things were not to be for New Zealand, who fell short in white-ball title final for the third time in six years.


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Marsh-Warner lead to maiden title

The 173-run target that New Zealand set after huffing and puffing for a major part of their innings, was supposed to be tricky for Australia. 

Finch’s men weren’t favourites at the start of the tournament. But the cricketing giant, who hadn’t won a global title since their 2015 ODI championship, didn’t break a sweat to chase down the total in the big final.

Finch and Warner came out to open and the captain was dismissed in no time, with 15 on the board. But the new number-3 in the side, Marsh, raced right out of the gates. With a six off his first ball, he set up the chase along with Warner, who had been struggling in T20s before the tournament began.

Their 92-run partnership in around 10 overs, with Warner scoring 53 off 38, made the task considerably easier. And Maxwell, a T20 veteran himself, finished the job along with Marsh, with a 28-off-18 cameo.

The Aussies found their hero in Marsh, who had said just two years ago that “most of Australia hates me”, right after he took his first Test five-for.

Before 2021, in 15 T20 internationals, he had made 258 runs with no fifty to his name. This year, he made 627 runs in 21 matches, with six 50s. In Australia’s head coach Justin Langer’s words, Marsh was “one of the missing pieces in the jigsaw”.

At the end of the night, he took home the ‘Player of the Match’ trophy. And his partner in the chase, David Warner, earned the ‘Player of the Tournament’ title for his 289 runs.


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Captain’s knock by Williamson

Sent in to bat first, a hesitant NZ opened cautiously. After Daryl Mitchell was sent back off a Hazlewood delivery, the score was still at 28 in 3.5 overs. The run rate collapsed further as Martin Guptill and captain Kane sought to protect the wickets column. By the end of 10 overs, with only 57 on the board, the Kiwis were struggling to lift the run rate.

But just then, the world’s second-best Test batsman metamorphosed into a T20 maverick in a Mitch Stark over. Without a slog in sight, lofting off-drives, and square drives, Williamson sent the Aussie bowlers into a tizzy.

He ended up with the fastest fifty in a T20 World Cup final, off just 32 balls — before Marsh bettered him by one ball in the second half of the match.

Speaking during the post-match presentation, Williamson said: “We made every effort to get a good total… credit to the way Australia chased that total. They did not give us an inch.” 

Win toss, win match

When the T20 World Cup history will be written, toss will, perhaps, be remembered as the ultimate kingmaker of the 2021 UAE edition. Winning the toss and inviting the opponents to take the strike first was the mantra seen over the past three weeks.

Interestingly, the coin favoured Finch in six out of the seven games Australia played, with them opting to chase in all six. The only match where the Aussies lost the toss also happened to be their solo defeat (against England).

Of the 33 matches played in the tournament from Super 12 onwards, 23 were won by the side that won the toss. During both the semifinals too, the chasing side won with an over to spare. 

Many experts declared dew to be the main culprit for a somewhat skewed and predictable competition. Even Indian captain Virat Kohli earlier said that dew “made a huge difference” in his team’s massive 10-wicket loss against Pakistan in their Super 12 game.

The Indian Premier League (IPL), which was played in the UAE right before the world championship, also saw the ‘win toss, field first’ trend. In 13 IPL matches played in Dubai this year, nine were won by the chasing side.

Brief scores: New Zealand 172/4 (Kane Williamson 85, Martin Guptill 28, Josh Hazlewood 3/16), Australia 173/2, 18.5 overs (Mitchell Marsh 77, David Warner 53, Trent Boult 2/18)


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