Venue: Dubai International Cricket Stadium Dubai
Date: Sunday, November 14, 2021
It is safe to say that this is not the final that anyone expected when the semi-finals were decided at the end of pool play. Both Australia and New Zealand finished second in their groups, meaning that they hat to upset Pakistan and England respectively for a shot at the trophy in Dubai. While both were surprising results – and it should be noted that both won when batting second and chasing runs (as is perhaps all too common in T20) – it was the Australian’s win over a full-strength – and to that point undefeated – Pakistan that turned the most heads. This Anzac final is one that is sure to be appointment viewing on both sides of the Tasman.
I am not really sure what there is to say about the fact that New Zealand batsman Devon Conway has been ruled out of the final in a completely bizarre fashion. Conway – who made a crucial 46 as the Black Caps ran down England in the semi-final, was less than pleased with his shot decision that resulted in him being stumped by Jos Buttler. In a moment that anyone who has ever played any sport can relate to, Conway was furious with himself. His way of expressing that emotion was to punch his bat – something he has likely done dozens of times before – but this time the freak contact resulted in a broken hand.
The Australian middle order was ridiculous against Pakistan as their run chase seemed to have fizzled out. Marcus Stoinis and Matthew Wade seemed to be hitting every shot for six in the closing stages as they shared 81 runs in a 6.4 over final stand. Expect an unchanged side here, meaning that David Warner has to set the tone early with his bat as this is never the same team if he falters The Aussies need Warner to take the edge out of the six-over powerplay and then their bats will come alive.
New Zealand just knows how to get to this stage as an overachieving cricketing nation. They are the world Test champions, they missed out on the One Day World Cup in a Super Over, and now they have a chance to claim the T20 crown. Australia could easily not be here had Hassan Ali not dropped Wade before the power hitter smashed back-to-back-to-back sixes in a flurry of late runs. This means that they are almost playing with house money as they look for a win to reassert some of the dominance that it feels like they have lost in all forms of the game over the last few years.
Batting second will once again be just imperative here as it allows for a run chase to flow and build with the heavy hitters coming in and sledging the ball when needed. My lean is with New Zealand, but the better option is to wait until the toss is decided and bet in-play with BetXchange on who bats second.