Kane Williamson's masterclass goes in vain as Australia claim their maiden men's T20 title on the back of Mitch Marsh's unbeaten 77
Mitch Marsh's finest hour in Australian gold has seen his country break their men's T20 World Cup title drought as Kane Williamson's masterclass went in vain in the tournament decider in Dubai on Monday morning AEDT.
Opting for skill over power-hitting, Williamson made Australia pay dearly for an early life as he crunched 85 off just 48 deliveries to fire New Zealand to 4-172, the highest ever total set in the final of the tournament.
But a 92-run second-wicket partnership between player-of-the-match Marsh (77 not out from 50) and player-of-the-tournament David Warner (53 off 38) broke the back of the run chase as Australia won by eight wickets with seven balls to spare.
Australian players stormed the field after Glenn Maxwell (28no off 18) hit the winning runs, with an overawed Marsh seemingly shocked and delighted in equal measure.
The result is vindication for Australia's decision to promote Marsh to No.3 earlier this year and then keep him in that spot even when Steve Smith returned to the side for this tournament.
Warner's crowning as the T20 World Cup's leading player, meanwhile, marks a significant achievement for the opener after he had entered the tournament under a form cloud following a rough Indian Premier League campaign.Image Id: ED228D277B7148D399D4B907702D82D9 Image Caption: Marsh celebrates Australia's winning moment // Getty
The defeat is yet more heartbreak for New Zealand, the Test world champions who have now been beaten in the finals of three of the past four limited-overs World Cups.
Josh Hazlewood, brilliant with the ball with a miserly haul of 3-14, will be the most relieved man in Dubai having dropped a straightforward chance off Williamson at fine leg when the Black Caps captain was on 21.
Williamson made the Aussies pay as he displayed supreme finesse in a commanding innings, hitting three sixes and 10 fours on the way to the equal-highest score in a men's T20 World Cup final.
Yet the result appeared inevitable from the moment Marsh joined Warner at the crease in the third over of the chase, such were the steely looks of determination painted on the faces of the two Australians.
Marsh raced to the fastest half-century ever scored in a men's T20 World Cup final and only grew in confidence after Warner departed to the impressive Trent Boult (2-18 off four overs) with 65 runs still required.
After Finch lost his early battle with left-armer Boult, Marsh promptly hoisted his first three balls (off Adam Milne) for six, four and four to ease the pressure on Warner, Australia's leading batter at this tournament.Image Id: CCDF86086C46476CAE7004988B825953 Image Caption: Warner celebrates Australia's win // Getty
The Aussies took 43 off the Powerplay but Warner and Marsh went up a gear when the field went back as the pair refused to allow the Kiwi spinners to settle, with Ish Sodhi (0-40 off three) coming in for particular punishment.
Boult could have had Marsh too on the final ball of his spell if he had held on to a sharp caught-and-bowled chance, but by then the match was in Australia's keeping.
"I just wanted to get out there and have a presence," Marsh said.
"What an amazing six weeks ... World Champs."Image Id: 215EF3E1E08A4075A931FCB3C1621AAC Image Caption: Marsh and Maxwell saw Australia home // Getty
It was a fitting end to a tournament dominated by teams batting second, with all 10 of the night matches played in Dubai won by the team chasing.
It was little wonder then that captain Finch was grinning earlier in the evening after winning his sixth toss in seven games at this tournament, unsurprisingly taking the advantage of bowling first.
New Zealand made a promising start but the metronomic Hazlewood (1-9 off his three Powerplay overs) and Pat Cummins pegged them back, the former removing semi-final hero Daryl Mitchell (11 off eight) as just nine runs came off the second half of the Powerplay.Image Id: 04617298E6954134870B7A74EEA7B88C Image Caption: The Australians celebrate // Getty
At 0-40 after eight, the Kiwis were lagging.
Enter Williamson, who scored just seven off first 13 balls before exploding in the second half of the innings.
The right-hander attacked Australia's auxiliary bowling options in Marsh (11 off one over) and Maxwell (28 off three), but dished out his harshest punishment to Mitch Starc, who he pasted for 19 and 22 off his second and third overs.Image Id: 5E9833B996C846E9A66C379CC5C6B004 Image Caption: Williamson manipulated the ball to all parts in his terrific 85 off 48 // Getty
The left-armer (0-60) was the biggest victim of the onslaught, returning the most expensive figures of the tournament, as Williamson helped his side slam 115 from their final 10 overs.
The Kiwi skipper had some fortune – he cracked back-to-back boundaries off thick edges off Starc, in addition to Hazlewood's dropped catch – but then displayed supreme touch to find the off-side boundary off the left-armer twice more by opening the face of his bat.
Hazlewood returned to remove Williamson off his penultimate delivery of the evening, capping his recent emergence as a force in the shortest format by claiming his second T20 trophy in a month having also won the recent IPL crown with the Chennai Super Kings.Image Id: 56A78C3557774F81A23AC27190B70082 Image Caption: Australia's men's team lift the T20 World Cup trophy for the first time // Getty
NZ found Pat Cummins (0-27) and Adam Zampa (1-26) almost as hard to get away, with the leg-spinner Zampa finishing equal with Boult as the tournament's leading wicket taker in the Super 12s.
Six members of the Australian XI (Finch, Smith, Maxwell, Starc, Hazlewood and Warner) are now two-time world champions having also played in the 2015 ODI World Cup win, also over NZ.
"This is huge," Finch said. "To be the first Australian team to be able to do it. So proud of the way the guys went about the whole campaign."
Australia XI: Aaron Finch (c), David Warner, Mitchell Marsh, Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade (wk), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa, Josh Hazlewood
New Zealand XI: Martin Guptill, Daryl Mitchell, Kane Williamson (c), Glenn Phillips, Jimmy Neesham, Tim Seifert (wk), Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Adam Milne, Trent Boult
2021 Men's T20 World Cup
Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins (vc), Josh Hazlewood, Josh Inglis, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa. Travelling reserves: Dan Christian, Nathan Ellis, Daniel Sams
Oct 23: Australia beat South Africa by five wickets
Oct 28: Australia beat Sri Lanka by seven wickets
Oct 30: England beat Australia by eight wickets
Nov 4: Australia beat Bangladesh by eight wickets
Nov 6: Australia beat West Indies by eight wickets
Nov 10: New Zealand beat England by five wickets
Nov 11: Australia beat Pakistan by five wickets
Nov 14: Australia beat New Zealand by eight wickets