After 42 league matches and two thrilling semi-finals, it all comes down to this one final push. Two of the most unexpected teams, New Zealand and Australia, take part in the summit clash of the 2021 ICC T20 World Cup in Dubai on Sunday (November 14). The best part is, no matter who wins, a new team will be crowned champions. Australia at least have made it to the finals once in 2010, but for New Zealand, it’s their first final appearance in this format.
However, in recent times, reaching the finals of an ICC event has been a bread and butter routine for New Zealand. Since the 2015 ODI World Cup, this is their fourth final appearance in six ICC events, which is impeccable consistency. On the other hand, after their win in the 2015 ODI WC, this is Australia’s first final appearance in an ICC event.
India-Pakistan rivalry in ICC events is an unmatched one but, the Trans-Tasman rivalry has been one of the most unnoticed ones. In the limited-overs format of the ICC events, Australia have an upper hand over New Zealand by winning 12 out of the 18 matches played.
In any case, this New Zealand side led by Kane Williamson has achieved the unimaginable. With the likes of Daryl Mitchell, the skipper himself, James Neesham, the two of the best opening duos with the ball, Trent Boult and Time Southee, and the spin twins, Ish Sodhi and Mitchell Santner, can they pull off another heist? Here are a few tactical match-ups for the final:
Leg spin woes for Australian batsmen
In the finals, the biggest threat for the probable Australian top five batsmen would be the leg-spin of Sodhi. In T20s since 2020, none of their top seven batsmen from the previous match have averaged more than 31 against leg-spin, Steven Smith has the highest average (30.7). Aaron Finch is the worst among all these batsmen averaging 14.9 in 27 innings.
In their semi-final match against Pakistan, the leg-spin of Shadab Khan nearly crashed Australia’s chase. In the final, they will be up against Sodhi. Furthermore, a couple of batsmen have an agonizing record against Sodhi.
Southee’s most productive delivery is Finch’s worst nightmare
Southee is one of those bowlers who has the ability to move the ball both ways. With some assistance for the pacers at the start of the innings in Dubai, Southee and Boult will look to replicate what Shaheen Afridi did to Finch in the semi-final, Southee in particular.
In T20s since 2021, against right-handers, Southee has bagged eight wickets through in-swingers, the most for him and batsmen average 15.8 when he bowls that particular delivery. On the other hand, Finch has been dismissed seven times to balls that have moved in from the right-arm pacer at an average of 18.7. All-in-all, there lies a pit of doom for Finch in the final. First up against Southee and Boult, then against Sodhi.
Contrasting tales for New Zealand openers
Both New Zealand openers, Mitchell and Martin Guptill have been exceptional in this tournament. But, both of them haven’t performed together in any match. The trend is likely to continue in the final as Guptill’s record against left-arm pacers look gloomy.
In T20s since 2020, Guptill in 22 innings against left-arm pacers has averaged 18.2 with five dismissals at a strike rate of 79.1. To his agony, he will face one of the most renowned left-arm pacers, Mitchell Starc in the final. On the other hand, his opening partner, Mitchell has averaged 52 against left-arm pace in eight innings with one dismissal and has struck at 162.5.
Slower balls are the way to go against Wade
The quicker you bowl, the faster it flies over the ropes if Wade is batting. This is exactly what he did against Pakistan. Every time, Shaheen or Haris Rauf offered him pace to work with, Wade dispatched the ball out of their presence.
Historically, Wade has a good record when he has had pace to work with. In T20s since 2020, Wade has averaged 34 with a strike rate of 226.7 against 145+ deliveries. Whereas, against slower deliveries (off & leg cutters, slow bouncer, knuckle balls and back of the hand) he averages 15.9 with nine dismissals in 23 innings and strikes at 160.7.
Williamson to face spin test
There are very few non-Asian batsmen who are good players of spin and Williamson is one of them for sure. However, there are a few glitches in his record including his numbers against Zampa and Maxwell. In T20s, Williamson averages 10.8 with four dismissals against the two bowlers in nine innings and strikes below 90.
Both bowlers have dismissed him twice and the part time off spin of Maxwell has been the most lethal one. In four innings, he averages three against Maxwell and against Zampa, in seven innings the average sits at 18.5. In his T20I career, Williamson averages 51.2 against other spinners of the top 10 teams. When it comes to Australian spinners, it plummets down to 11.8.