Kane Williamson’s New
Zealand eye a second global crown in a single year when they take on Australia
at the Twenty20 World Cup final that will witness a new winner on Sunday.
New Zealand and Australia renew their trans-Tasman rivalry
in Dubai as both teams look to clinch their maiden world title in the shortest
It’s a hat-trick of ICC finals for the once perennial
underdogs of world cricket after they outplayed India to win the inaugural Test
championship in June.
They beat favourites England in the semi-final to avenge
their 2019 defeat in a dramatic 50-over World Cup final at Lord’s when they
went down on boundary count after a super over.
Head coach Gary Stead said the Black Caps are excited to
take on the Australian challenge in what will be their first ever T20 World Cup
“That’s probably a final that I’m not sure too many
people would have predicted a month or so ago, Australia and New Zealand,”
The Kiwis though have suffered an injury blow after
wicketkeeper Devon Conway was ruled out following a broken hand when he punched
his bat on his dismissal in the semi-final.
Jimmy Neesham played a key part in the team’s semi-final win
over England as he hit 27 off 11 balls to turn the game on its head and win
with an over to spare.
“I am sure there will be a bigger outpour of emotion if
we manage to get across the line,” he said.
Sunday’s clash will bring back memories of the 2015 50-over
final when Australia beat New Zealand by seven wickets to clinch their fifth
ODI World Cup.
Aaron Finch’s Australians beat title favourites Pakistan by
five wickets in the second semi-final.
“They’ve got a bunch of guys who are real match
winners,” said Stead.
“And we’re going to have to make sure that our
planning, out scouting is right on point and we’ve got really clear plans for
their players because they can like rip a game open pretty quickly.”
Australia were in trouble at 96-5 while chasing 177 on
Thursday when Marcus Stoinis (40) and Matthew Wade (41) put on an unbeaten
partnership of 82 and win by an over to spare.
Wade smashed Pakistan pace ace Shaheen Shah Afridi for three
straight sixes including two audacious scoop shots – the final one sailing over
fine leg to silence the Pakistan crowd.
‘Piece to the puzzle’
Stoinis said a T20 World Cup title will “mean a bloody
lot to us.”
“Obviously Test cricket and the Ashes, that’s what we
grew up when we played. Then the transformation of T20 cricket. It’s not a hit
and a giggle anymore in terms of the pressure,” said Stoinis.
“I don’t think many people gave us a chance leading
into this tournament apart from the players and coaching staff. So it’s
definitely going to mean a bloody lot to us and we will be super proud when we
bring that home to Australia.”
Coach Justin Langer said: “We have got such a rich
history and it’ll be nice to add this piece to the puzzle.”
Key will be the form of opener David Warner who has
plundered 236 runs at the tournament.
Langer lauded the Black Caps for their brand of cricket and
said the Aussies will have to bring their best for a maiden title.
“The way New Zealand have gone about their business for
the last few years has been outstanding,” said Langer.
“They are a really good bunch of blokes. They get on
with the job and get it done. We have to be at our best like we have been
throughout this tournament to beat New Zealand.”