NZ vs AUS, T20 World Cup: New Zealand's road to the final
Ahead of the NZ vs AUS summit clash at T20 World Cup 2021, let's take a look at New Zealand's road to the final.
44 matches and 27 days later, only two teams remain in T20 World Cup 2021. The showpiece event began as a 16-team tournament in Oman and will culminate with the New Zealand vs Australia final in Dubai on Sunday.
The Black Caps, without a shadow of a doubt, will be the side to beat in the summit clash. They have looked the composed side in the tournament thus far who have shown great discipline. In batting, they are known to go hard at the top, play according to the situation and context in the middle, and then finish on a high. In the bowling department, they have got three premium pacers ratting the opposition before two very efficient spinners drying up the runs in the middle overs. And at the end, the pacers return to scalp quick wickets and restrict the opposition.
Other teams are well aware of the Kiwis' style and pattern, yet they have been unable to break them. And that is why New Zealand are the side to beat. Australia will be playing their second final, while NZ will be featuring in their first. Either way, a new champion will be crowned.
Ahead of the grand finale, let's take a look at how New Zealand's road to the final:
MATCH 1: Campaign off to a poor start against Pakistan
The Kiwis were handed a 5-wicket defeat by Pakistan in their opening match in Sharjah. Batting first, the Kane Williamson-led side posted 134/8 in 20 overs. No one could really get going on a tricky Sharjah track. In response, Pakistan stuttered as well, reaching 87-5 in 14.5 overs. It was Asif Ali, batting at no.7, along with veteran Shoaib Malik, who got the team over the line. He smashed 27 off 12 balls, including three sixes, to bag the win with 1.2 overs to spare.
MATCH 2: NZ bounce back, decimate India
The Black Caps had shown a few positive signs in the first game and were definitely not out-played. They carried the form into the second game to thrash India by 8 wickets in Dubai. Opting to bowl first, NZ restricted India to 110/7 in 20 overs. Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi (2 wickets), and Trent Boult (3 wickets) were stars of the show. In response, they got over the line comfortably with 5.3 overs to spare. Daryl Mitchell scored 49, missing his maiden T20I half-century by a whisker. Williamson scored an unbeaten 33.
MATCH 3: Welcome back to form, Martin Guptill
The Kiwis were still waiting to see a glimpse of excellence from their star opener Martin Guptill and got just that in their next game against Scotland. Batting first during a day game in Dubai, Guptill's 56-ball 93 powered NZ to 172/5 in 20 overs. Phillips starred at the back end of the innings with a handy 33. In the second half, Scotland made the Black Caps sweat and kept themselves in the reckoning throughout. However, and despite Michael Leask's 20-ball 40, they could only get to 156/5 in 20 overs, hence losing the game by 20 runs.
MATCH 4: Assured performance against Namibia
New Zealand did a world of good to their net run rate, something that came into play heavily towards the end in Group 2, by beating Namibia by 52 runs in Sharjah. Phillips (39) and Jimmy Neesham (35) guided the side to 163-4 in their 20 overs. In response, the bowlers restricted Namibia to 111/7 in their 20 overs.
MATCH 5: Clinical against Afghanistan, through to Semis
New Zealand found themselves in a tricky situation as they needed to beat Afghanistan to secure a berth in the semifinals. Had they lost, India would have gone through on a better net run rate. Hence, it was a do-or-die game for the Kiwis despite a strong campaign. But as they say, champion teams click when needed. Opting to bat, Afghanistan posted a meager total of 124/8 in 20 overs.
MATCH 6: Ecstasy for New Zealand, agony for England
The shivers of their painful defeat in the 2019 World Cup final are still felt by the fans around the world. England and New Zealand had squared off at Lord's in what was one of the most astonishing games of cricket. Hence, the first semifinal held a little more importance than usual. And this time, the Kiwis ended on the right side of the result. Opting to bowl first, New Zealand bowlers, for the first time in the tournament, took a pounding as Jos Buttler (33), Dawid Malan (41), and Moeen Ali (51*) took the side to a competitive 166/4 in 20 overs.
During the chase, New Zealand lost Guptill and Williamson inside the powerplay. Then, Mitchell and Conway steadied the ship before the latter was removed on 46. Phillips fell for 2 soon after and since Mitchell wasn't able to time the ball, the pressure was back on them. However, a whirlwind knock of 27, off just 11 balls, by Jimmy Neesham changed the face of the game. It allowed Mitchell to find his mojo and despite Neesham's departure, the opener smashed an unbeaten 72 to take his side to their first-ever T20 World Cup final with five wickets and 1 over to spare.