Despite the coin landing in Aaron Finch’s favour, Kane Williamson (85, 48b, 10x4, 3x6) played a blinder to nearly buck the trend of ‘win the toss, chase the target, and win the game’ in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. However, the Black Caps captain’s heroics weren’t enough to lead his team to a victory.
Thanks to a 92-run partnership between David Warner (53, 38b, 4x4, 3x6) and Mitchell Marsh (77 n.o., 50b, 6x4, 4x6), Australia made meat of a target of 171 to end its prolonged drought of a T20 World Cup triumph. It was the second time this week that Australia chased down a 170-plus title at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
While Finch and Co. left it for the lower-order to make a comeback into the semifinal versus Pakistan on Thursday, Sunday night saw Warner and Marsh setting alight the Ring of Fire right from the word go.
Even though Finch continued his forgettable run in the UAE, top-edging Trent Boult in the third over, Marsh whacked 14 runs off the first three balls — 6, 4, 4 — off Adam Milne in the next over. After that, the scoreboard pressure never piled on Australia, with Warner carrying on his amazing run in the tournament.
Even before the dew started making spinners’ life miserable — Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi offered freebies as consistently as they had been stifling the oppositions thus far in the tournament — Marsh and Warner were at their marauding best. While Warner’s short-arm jab off Tim Southee in the fifth over was breathtaking, Marsh’s six over long-on off Sodhi would have pleased even the old-timers.
Glenn Maxwell joined the party after Boult got through Warner’s defence. It was a Maxwell reverse-lap off Tim Southee in the penultimate over that completed the formalities with fireworks lighting up the Dubai skies, adding to Australia’s celebrations.
Had it not been for Josh Hazlewood’s terrific spell — and a chance to Williamson in the 11th over — Australia would not have been chasing a stiff target.
Thanks to Hazlewood’s 14 dot balls in the three overs he bowled in the PowerPlay, Martin Guptill and Williamson could only trundle to 32/1 in the PowerPlay and 57/1 at the halfway mark.
In the next over, Williamson, on 21, whipped Mitchell Starc off his pads and Hazlewood made a mess of a regulation catch at deep fine-leg. In the next 25 balls he faced, Williamson made the Australians pay a hefty price by pounding 59 runs before being caught at deep midwicket by Maxwell off Hazlewood. The total was not enough.
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