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Match Preview – Australia vs New Zealand, ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021/22, Final

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Big Picture

If anything, this World Cup is a reminder of the number of chances modern cricket offers.

Only two years ago James Neesham was wishing he had never been a cricketer, such was the heartbreak his side endured in the 50-over World Cup final. Not long before that he had actually contemplated giving up cricket precisely because he was struggling to come to terms with failing, an essential part of the life of any cricketer or a cricketing team.

And yet, one of them could be a world champion on Sunday. Well, actually Monday in their home countries (the final begins at 1am on Australia’s east coast and at 3am in New Zealand).

No matter how crushing a defeat, it is not the end of the world in today’s cricket where World Cups of one format or the other are played practically every year. Hasan Ali, Chris Jordan, we are looking at you. You dust yourselves up, start to play good cricket again and, with some luck, you get that chance again. Especially in T20 cricket, prone to upsets and chance because of the crunched nature of it.

This is New Zealand’s third straight ICC event final, and Australia’s first since they won the World Cup in 2015, but they have made it here in identical fashion. Finishing second in their groups, they got the better of the tournament favourites in the semi-finals through a dash in the final four overs, helped significantly by the toss.

This has been the friendliest of all T20 World Cups to sides winning the toss: if the final is also won by the side winning the toss, two out of every three matches will have been won by the toss-winners.

Restrict it to evenly matched teams and take out Sharjah, and only one total has been defended out of 14 in the Super 12s. They don’t come more evenly matched than these two. If Australia have the extra batting depth, New Zealand have a more rounded bowling attack, the most economical of the tournament. Usually batting depth trumps rounded attacks in T20 contests, but this has been the slowest-scoring T20 World Cup of all, which gives bowling-heavy teams a chance.

Then again, the final will be played on a fresh pitch; if it is anything like the semi-final in Dubai, it gives Australia a slight advantage, but if 150-160 is a par score, New Zealand might just be the favourites.

Form guide

Australia WWWLW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
New Zealand WWWWW

In the spotlight

Scan the teams for a player worthy of a place in an all-time T20 XI, and your eyes might land on David Warner. Like Langer and a few other Australia players, Warner has had a pretty ordinary year though. He made a premature comeback from injury in the series loss against India, and spent large parts of the IPL coming to terms with the ignominy of not even making his IPL team’s XV leave alone an all-time XI. However as a batter at this World Cup, while others might have scored more runs, in terms of impact-batting Warner has been second only to another all-timer, Jos Buttler, scoring 236 runs at a strike rate of 148.42. A winning hand in a World Cup final could be the final seal on his reputation, though he doesn’t really need it.
Tim Southee has taken at least one wicket in each match and has gone at just 5.75 runs an over so far. Fourteen of his 24 overs have been bowled in the powerplay, and five at the death. Here is a bowler who didn’t even get to play in the first XI in his team’s last World Cup. The turnaround has been remarkable, and just like a well-constructed T20 over, he needs to close it out in the final moments.

Team news

Australia don’t have a reason to change their XI with Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Marsh and Marcus Stoinis providing them a fifth bowler and Matthew Wade at No. 7 making it a reasonably deep batting line-up.

Australia (probable) 1 David Warner, 2 Aaron Finch (capt.), 3 Mitchell Marsh, 4 Steven Smith, 5 Glenn Maxwell, 6 Marcus Stoinis, 7 Matthew Wade (wk), 8 Pat Cummins, 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Adam Zampa, 11 Josh Hazlewood

New Zealand will have to make at least one change after Devon Conway broke his hand when striking his bat in frustration at his dismissal. They are unlikely to change the balance of the side, though, with five full-time bowlers and Neesham at No. 6. Tim Seifert is the likely replacement for Conway.

New Zealand (probable) 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Daryll Mitchell, 3 Kane Williamson, 4 Tim Seifert (wk), 5 Glenn Phillips, 6 James Neesham, 7 Mitchell Santner, 8 Tim Southee, 9 Adam Milne, 10 Trent Boult, 11 Ish Sodhi

Pitch and conditions

We should get a fresh pitch, which should be good for batting. Even though there wasn’t much dew during the semi-final in Dubai, chasing remains the preferred option.

Stats and trivia

Quotes

“It’s not unexpected: we came here with a clear plan to try and win this tournament and always felt as though we had the depth and quality in our squad to put ourselves in a position to do that, and New Zealand have been in every final for a long time now in ICC events. They’re a great team over all three formats and can never be underestimated, but maybe people on the outside do.”
Aaron Finch objects to the suggestion that Australia vs New Zealand is an “unexpected” final

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo



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Marnus Labuschagne eager for James Anderson duel with 'target on the back'

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Australia’s No. 3 is one of the few players who will enter the Ashes with substantial cricket under his belt



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India vs NZ, 2nd Test

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Tom Latham will lead New Zealand

Rahane is out due to a minor left hamstring strain he picked up while fielding on the final day of the Kanpur Test. Jadeja’s is a right forearm injury that required scans which revealed swelling. “He has been advised rest,” stated a BCCI release.

Ishant, meanwhile, dislocated his left little finger on the final day in Kanpur, leaving the door open for Mohammed Siraj‘s return. Siraj had himself sustained a finger injury during the T20I series, but has now been deemed fit.
For Williamson, it’s the recurrence of an old left-elbow problem that has troubled him for much of the year. Coach Gary Stead confirmed the injury had flared up during the first Test and with it failing to improve in the days following the match, the call was made to rule him out. In his absence. Tom Latham will lead the side.

“It’s been a really tough time for Kane having to deal with such a persistent injury,” Stead said. “While we’ve been able to manage the injury through the year and the T20 World Cup, the shift to Test cricket and the increased batting loading has re-aggravated his elbow.

“Ultimately the injury is still not right and while he got through the Kanpur Test, it was clear playing in the second Test wasn’t an option.”

Meanwhile, the absence of Rahane and Jadeja could leave India’s team management contemplate a sixth batting option. If they go down this route, it could mean a debut for KS Bharat or Suryakumar Yadav at his home ground. Wriddhiman Saha was ruled fit by Virat Kohli a day before the match.



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Recent Match Report – Sri Lanka vs West Indies 2nd Test 2021/22

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Report

Ninth-wicket partnership of 107 with Embuldeniya hurts West Indies and their hopes of victory in Galle

Sri Lanka 328 for 8 (Dhananjaya 153*, Embuldeniya 25*, Permaul 3-100, Chase 2-82) and 204 lead West Indies 253 by 279 runs

Dhananjaya de Silva came to the crease with Sri Lanka only 23 runs ahead, with three wickets down, and their most experienced batter injured an unable to play normally. By the time his work ended on day four, Sri Lanka were 279 runs ahead, with two wickets still in hand, in firm control.
De Silva, in sublime touch for much of this knock, was 153 not out off 259 balls by stumps, put on 78 alongside Pathum Nissanka to rescue Sri Lanka from immediate peril, and made 51 with Ramesh Mendis during a second session in which West Indies’ spinners made a four-wicket charge, but it was with No. 10 Lasith Embuldeniya with whom he produced the most consequential and perhaps match-defining partnership – an as-yet unbeaten association of 107 runs, during which he completed his eighth Test century, and breezed past 150, plundering 73 runs off 98 balls from a tiring attack.
He was dropped twice – both times off the bowling of Veerasammy Permaul. On 5, wicketkeeper Joshua Da Silva could not hold on to a big edge, though this was an incredibly difficult chance, the ball traveling quickly and hitting only the tips of his gloves. The opportunity West Indies will rue more came when de Silva was on 116 and attempted a slog sweep with the field spread. Permaul got himself under the swirling top edge as he ran toward the sight screen, but ultimately could not wrap his fingers around the ball. If he’d caught that, Sri Lanka would have been nine down with a lead of 218. It’s possible West Indies would already have been batting by now, chasing a difficult but not outlandish target.

The earliest stretch of the de Silva-Embuldeniya stand had been tense. Embuldeniya had come in with Sri Lanka only 179 ahead, and with Permaul having taken two wickets in quick succession with the second new ball. De Silva was batting on 80, and so the hundred was in sight as well. But the pair settled into a rhythm – de Silva farming the strike to give Embuldeniya only the last two or three balls an over, where possible. Though de Silva didn’t always attempt to hit boundaries early in those overs, largely because Kraigg Brathwaite had positioned fielders on the rope.

Embuldeniya scratched his way through that period, facing 20 balls before de Silva was able to complete the century. After that, de Silva moved up the gears. He hit Roston Chase behind point for four soon after getting to a hundred, then slammed him over long-on two balls later. The field spread back to him, he ran hard twos, and when Brathwaite brought the seamers back, attacked them as well. Having got to his hundred off his 189th delivery, he added the next 50 off 65.

Embuldeniya played an unambitious supporting hand, all the way up to stumps. He faced 110 balls for his 25. He did not hit a single boundary, but was largely good in defence. West Indies, through this period, seemed ragged and short of ideas. Brathwaite bowled a strange spell in which he occasionally tossed the ball up almost comically high.

West Indies will be kicking themselves for letting the situation slip, after having surged through the middle session, and having kept the opposition in check even before lunch. Sri Lanka had begun the day still three runs in arrears, and with two inexperienced batters at the crease. Permaul got one to bite to take Charith Asalanka’s inside edge, which popped up off the pad to short leg, in the first hour of play. And although Nissanka completed his third fifty of the series in the company of de SIlva, he was out the ball before lunch too – lbw to Chase.

Chase struck again in the afternoon, pocketing a return catch off Dinesh Chandimal, before Brathwaite was the beneficiary of the only wicket Sri Lanka truly threw away in the day – Mendis holing out at deep midwicket the over before the second new ball was due. Permaul removed Suranga Lakmal and Angelo Mathews cheaply with that new ball. He finished the day on 3 for 100 – West Indies’ best analysis.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf



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