One hand on the trophy!
With the conclusion of the Super 12’s and semi-finals, we have an all-antipodean final! Both teams finished second in their groups and both England & Pakistan fans will both have felt a finals spot was in the bag. The antithesis, however, is that the final has become a local derby and that ever healthy relationship between Australia & New Zealand with the added niggle of bragging right over their close neighbours will make for an awe inspiring final.
The final games of the super 12’s we reasonably simples with New Zealand, India and Pakistan steam rolling their respective opponents without issue. The same was expected of the unbeaten England side but the cracks started to become visible as South Africa racked up 189 the highest total scored against England in the tournament. With an injury blow to Roy & Butler showing his human side, departing for 26, it was left to the rest. Despite worthy innings from Ali (37) & Malan (33) you must ask the question why the class of Malan, Livingstone, Morgan is left with so much to do with so little time batting at 5,6,7. Fair play to the Proteas though as they took on and inform and confident England side led by Van Der Dussen (98) & Markram (52) with a cameo of 34 from deKock. Credit must go to the bowling attack, led by Rabada (3-48) & backed up by Shamsi (2-24) Pretorius (2-30), for a clinical display of handling pressure! It must be said it was England’s game to lose.
And then there were 4…
Out of the 4 teams which had made it through to the semi’s many would have considered Australia and Pakistan the outliers before the tournament & India a dead cert for a finals spot. As it happens there were more twists and turns to come!
England were in the hunt for both limited overs trophies in the locker, New Zealand looking for sweet revenge for the 2019 World Cup final many would not have bet against the Poms! Batting first Butler had a new opening partner in Bairstow and the partnership never got going, achieving only 37 in 5 overs. Thanks to Malan (41) & Ali (51) the innings gathered pace giving England a defendable total, but the class of the bowling did not give anything away.
New Zealand is a team which is quite often the Bridesmaid and never the Bride and losing Guptill for 4 in the 1st over and then Williamson for 5 in the 3rd over many will have “Tapped out” as the Kiwi throats started getting dry and scratchy. Despite excellent bowling for the English attack, the dependable Woakes (2-9) and the versatile Livingstone (2 – 22), Mitchell played the innings of his life smashing 72 from 47. England seemingly devoid of their usual level clinical precision, giving away 10 extras, could have changed the result. As it happens New Zealand had their revenge and one hand on a world cup trophy!
Pakistan the other in from team were taking on Australia, who will have been somewhat relieved that a second hiding from England was no longer a possibility. Pakistan full of confidence and batting could not have asked for a better start. The “Bash Brothers” continued their demolition of bowling attacks with an opening stand of 71 before Babar fell to Zampa for 39. Rizwan continued to 69 before Starc removed him for 67 while Fakhar Zaman helped himself to a brisk 55.
Batting second, 176 on the board and everything to play for Australia set about their work with Warner finding form falling 1 short of his 50. Finch sadly did not trouble the scorers and Steve Smith continues his lean patch. At the bottom of the order Stoinis (40) and Wade (41) stood up & delivered the rear-guard action required & taking responsibility despite a serious bowling performance from Shadab Khan with 4-26 who left nothing on the pitch. Dreams dashed and realised all I one fell swoop & another Aussie hand falls on a World Cup trophy.
With the final set and after 4 weeks of T20 Cricket madness the final chapter for this T20 World Cup begins & ends on Sunday 14th of November. Williamson vs Finch, Southee vs Starc what will be the battle that defines history?
Will Australia claim yet another limited overs World title or can the Black Caps take 2 of the 3 world titles available in the game!