Australia and New Zealand, neither of whom have won the ICC men’s T20 World Cup, will meet in the final in Dubai on Sunday. New Zealand beat favourite England in the semifinal on Wednesday while Australia knocked out previously unbeaten Pakistan a day later.
Having lost the past two ODI World Cup finals (2015, 2019), New Zealand now has the chance to win its first ICC limited-overs tournament.
Scott Styris, former Black Caps all-rounder, weighs in on David Warner’s form, the impact of Devon Conway’s absence and the match-ups where the final could be won or lost.
Q. Let's start with Warner. He was struggling to put bat to ball in IPL and now, is the fourth-leading run-scorer at the World Cup. What's changed?
A. Warner has been the best batter in the IPL over the last five years. Form is temporary, class is permanent as they say and he is class. Maybe it was confidence or simply that he hadn’t had enough time in the middle. But he is back and the No. 1 batter New Zealand need to get rid of if it wants to win.
In the absence of Conway, New Zealand has only one other genuine wicketkeeping option in its squad in Tim Seifert, who has played just one game this competition. How big a factor will Conway’s injury and the likely change in XI be in the final?
Conway is a massive loss. Australia is favourite and rightly so with no Conway there. He is an intelligent cricketer and high quality. He doesn’t normally bat four but they like him in the middle order with all his skills against spin in particular. So now how does New Zealand cope against Adam Zampa who has been brilliant? Glenn Phillips needs a big game. Phillips is also a keeper, so there aren’t any wicketkeeper issues.
Left-arm fingerspinner Mitchell Santner bowled just one over in the semifinal against England as the team had plenty of left-handers. Do you subscribe to this match-up logic of not bowling left-arm spinners against left-handers?
No, I don’t. I saw R. Ashwin’s tweet.
And I agree. I played a lot of cricket with Dan Vettori and he would never have been a match-ups only bowler. I think it’s gone a little too far when you see captains only wanting to spin the ball away from the bat.
For four men’s T20 World Cups in a row, Tim Southee had little success. But he seems to have turned a corner this World Cup. Do you see a marked difference in his method?
Not particularly, no. He has enjoyed the conditions. He has hit his lengths really well. You know the occasion won’t overawe him and New Zealand will need that experience and ability under pressure if it is to win this.
And how good has Jimmy Neesham been?
He has been great. Talent has never been in question. New Zealand needs Neesham to finish games. He still has plenty to gain in that department but is making all the right steps. It’s the toughest role in T20 cricket these days. Finishing games off and holding your nerve. Jimmy has made great strides with this.
Lastly, if there’s one match-up that you’d pick that could decide the final, which one would that be and why?
Santner/Ish Sodhi vs Glenn Maxwell. Maxwell can get on a roll. You take away a lot of the Aussie middle over scoring blitz if you can get rid of Maxwell. Getting your fields right is one key, the other is hoping Maxwell takes silly options, which he has done plenty of times in the IPL. But his match winning abilities have never been in doubt.
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