Australia break T20 World Cup duck with title win
Australia team members celebrate their maiden T20 World Cup win. (REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed)
AUSTRALIA clinched their maiden Twenty20 World Cup title after fiery fifties by Mitchell Marsh and David Warner fashioned an eight-wicket victory against New Zealand in Sunday’s final.
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson’s 85 off 48 balls fired his side to a strong 172 for 4 in a rematch of the final of the 2015 ODI World Cup between the trans-Tasman rivals.
Like in that contest in Melbourne four years ago, Australia triumphed again this time with seven balls to spare.
“This is huge, to be the first Australian team to be able to do it,” captain Aaron Finch, who was also part of the 2015-winning side, said at the presentation ceremony.
“So proud of the way the guys went about it the whole campaign. They were brilliant from the start.”
Marsh belted four sixes in his incendiary 77 not out, and Warner smashed 53 to drive Australia’s chase at the Dubai International Stadium.
Reigning world Test champions New Zealand finished runners-up to hosts England in the 2019 ODI World Cup as well.
Earlier, Williamson scored nearly half of New Zealand’s final total which had looked a distant dream for a side on 57 for 1 at the halfway stage of their innings.
Dropped on 21 by Josh Hazlewood, Williamson clobbered three sixes and 10 boundaries after Finch elected to field at a venue which has favoured the chasing team throughout the tournament.
Matthew Wade spilled a bottom-edge from Martin Guptill (28) early though it was not Australia’s costliest mistake as a fielding side.
Wade sort of made amends in the next over when he took a diving catch to send back Daryl Mitchell, the architect of New Zealand’s semifinal victory against England.
New Zealand were 32 for 1 after six overs, their lowest powerplay score in the tournament, and endured a 32-ball stretch without a boundary.
It could easily have been worse for them but Hazlewood dropped Williamson, then on a run-a-ball 21, at fine leg.
The batsman plundered 56 runs off the next 21 balls he faced, including back-to-back sixes off Glenn Maxwell en route to a 32-ball fifty.
Williamson milked 22 runs off Mitchell Starc’s third over, hitting the left-arm quick for four fours and a six.
Hazlewood eventually dismissed Williamson in the 18th over but not before the New Zealand skipper had hauled his team near the 150-mark.
With their captain leading by example, New Zealand plundered 115 off the final 10 overs.
Hazlewood claimed 3 for 16 but that dropped catch nearly overshadowed his excellent display with the ball.
Australia wobbled early in their chase, losing Finch in the third over when Mitchell ran in from deep square and took an excellent sliding catch.
Warner and Marsh, however, refused to retreat into a defensive shell and, with both going great guns, Australia cruised to the 100-mark in the 12th over.
“He (Warner) is outstanding. I can’t believe that people wrote him off a couple of weeks ago saying that he was done,” Finch said, referring to his opening partner’s lack of runs in the Indian Premier League in the lead-up to the tournament.
“That’s when he plays his best cricket. So it was almost like poking the bear.”
Trent Boult ended the carnage when he rattled Warner’s stumps but Marsh continue to hector the bowlers, bringing up his fifty with his fourth six.
Maxwell chipped in with a cameo of an unbeaten 28 sealing the victory with a cheeky reverse shot.
“Credit to the way the Australians chased that total. They didn’t give us an inch really,” said Williamson.
“It’s never nice. You sign up to these sorts of things and winning and losing are the two possible outcomes. Just a shame we couldn’t get the job done tonight.”