DUBAI: Australia and New Zealand will clash today (Sunday) in the final of the ICC’s Twenty20 World Cup at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium to lift the trophy for the first time.
The match will begin at 7pm PST.
Australia skipper Aaron Finch said his team came with a “clear plan” to win the World Cup and reaching the final against New Zealand came as no surprise to them.
The tournament showcasing cricket’s shortest format will witness a new winner in Dubai on Sunday after a clash between two teams that were not among the pre-competition favourites.
Australia made the semi-finals as the second-placed team behind England from their group but went on to beat Pakistan with a powerful performance in Thursday’s semi-final.
“Everyone had written us off, but we had a lot of confidence within. I think we came here with a really clear plan to win the tournament,” Finch told reporters.
“We always felt as though we’ve got the depth of the squad and the quality in our squad to put ourselves in a position to do that.”
He said: “No, it’s not unexpected.”
Finch praised the Black Caps who will be appearing in their third global final after winning the inaugural Test championship in June, two years after finishing runners-up in the 2019 50-over World Cup.
“And New Zealand, they have been in every final for a long time now in ICC events,” said Finch.
“They are a great team overall three formats of the game. They are a team that can never be under-estimated. But maybe people on the outside do.
“Certainly inside, we don’t. They have got firepower, they have got experience, they have got class. No, I’m not surprised one bit.”
Swashbuckling opener David Warner has led the team’s batting charge with 236 runs in six matches and along with Finch gets the runs flowing early for his team.
– Flexible batting –
But when Australia were in trouble at 96-5 while chasing 177 in the second semi-final, the less heralded Marcus Stoinis (40 runs) and Matthew Wade (41) drove their team home with one over to spare.
“At some point throughout the tournament, everyone in our 11 has had a match-winning contribution, which has been really impressive,” said Finch.
“I don’t think it’s down to one person. I think in a big game, you need everyone to chip in their part.”
Former captain Steve Smith has a highest score of 35 and was out for five in the semi-final, but Finch dismissed concerns about his form.
However Finch said the team remains flexible in their batting and called the left-handed Wade, a wicketkeeper-batsman, a “versatile” option when it comes to coming up or down the order.
Finch acknowledged the importance of pressing home the advantage in the first six overs of powerplay, especially against a potent New Zealand pace attack including Trent Boult and Tim Southee.
“I think we’ve seen throughout the tournament the importance of the powerplay,” said Finch.
“A lot of games have been dictated by who has won the initial contest in the power play in both innings. No doubt it will be a real challenge. It won’t define who wins the match but it does help set up your innings if you perform.”
But the skipper said he does not “fuss” about the toss and bowling first despite 11 out of 12 matches being won by the team batting second at the Dubai International Stadium.
New Zealand has ‘exciting talents’: Kane Williamson
New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson said the team has “exciting talents” as they bid for a maiden Twenty20 World Cup title after losing Devon Conway to freak injury.
Tim Seifert is set to take over the wicketkeeping duties in Sunday’s final against Australia in Dubai.
Conway, who broke his hand after punching his bat in an angry outburst following his dismissal in the semi-final win over England, was a second blow after the Kiwis lost Lockie Ferguson ahead of their opening match in the tournament.
Conway had made 129 runs at the event with an average of just over 32.
Crucially, his ability behind the stumps had allowed the Kiwis to draft in an extra bowler after the group loss to Pakistan.
“Here is a good mix of youth and experience, and some of these younger players that keep coming through are really exciting talents,” Williamson told reporters.
“Obviously the loss of Devon is a big one. He’s been a big part of all formats for us. It’s a disappointing and really freak thing to happen.
“But for us, it’s keeping our focus on the task, and all the players are really excited with the opportunity tomorrow to go out, and try to improve and adjust to what will be new, which is a different opposition and a different venue.”
New Zealand have been the team to beat in recent times after they ended up runners-up in the 2019 50-over World Cup and clinched the inaugural Test championship in June this year.
Both New Zealand and Australia have never won a T20 World Cup and the Kiwis will be playing in their first ever final in the tournament.
“It would be some achievement,” Williamson said on the prospect of winning two world trophies in a single year.
“But you know, where it stands at the moment is there’s a game of cricket to play, and for us, it’s focusing on that and focusing on our cricket and looking to go out there and implement those things that are important to us.”
The trans-Tasman rivals have a rich history of exciting contests and their title clash brings back memories of the 2015 ODI World Cup final in Melbourne when Australia outplayed New Zealand.
“I suppose the fact that we are sort of neighbours creates a bit of that, in a number of different sports as well,” Williamson said of the rivalry.
“So it is always a great competition, great occasion, when we play each other. So both teams I think are really excited at that prospect tomorrow.”
New Zealand have depended on their new-ball attack of Tim Southee and Trent Boult to unsettle opponents in the tournament.
But Williamson was asked on his team’s preparations to tackle Australia leg-spinner Adam Zampa who has 12 wickets.
“For us, we want to bring our focus to the cricket that we want to play and make sure that that’s the most important thing,” he said.
“And you know, go out there and enjoy the occasion and take it on in our style.”