For the first time ever, a final of a major cricket event will be a trans-Tasman event. Australia qualified for the final with a win over previously unbeaten Pakistan last night, whereas New Zealand had slain England the night before in similar circumstances.
It’s tough to say whose win over their relative favoured opponents was more impressive. If we had to we’d put Australia a tad ahead, for their playing eleven was more unsettled and had greater problems than the Kiwis.
Those problems did disappear somewhat in the semis where three of their batsmen played impressive knocks. David Warner’s 49 up top, followed by unbeaten 40 and 41 by Marcus Stoinis and Matthew Wade respectively has brought quite a few Aussie batters back in form.
One cause of concern out of the semis would be the super expensive spell bowled by Josh Hazlewood as well as the form of Glenn Maxwell but then players of this caliber can come alive at any given moment and any given platform.
New Zealand’s semi-final win was the construct of their opening batsman Daryl Mitchell, whose promotion from middle-order has been one of the genius strategies moves Gary Stead and Co.
In six T20 World Cup matches, he has not once failed to deliver double-digit scores, and his unbeaten 72 off 47 at a strike rate of 153.19 was a demonstration to Babar Azam and others that anchoring the innings does not mean you have to also bat at snail’s pace.
The Kiwis have a poor T20I record against the Aussies. Of the 14 matches played between the two sides, New Zealand have won just four while Australia boast nine victories. Three of those four Kiwi wins came in their last five encounters, so that indicates that the tide is turning finally.