'Unexpected' and 'Underdogs' were the two words used in the pre-match presser on the eve of the 2021 T20 World Cup final in Dubai. New Zealand have been the 'Underdogs' for almost forever now, irrespective of their recent surge in all formats of the game, Sunday's game being their third successive ICC final in the last three years, where they have won the World Test Championship.
Australia, on the other hand, might find it difficult to adjust with the adjective 'unexpected'. Well, they are the five-time ODI World Cup champions and have dominated international cricket for decades. However, in T20Is, Australia haven't been the same force to reckon with, reaching only their second T20 World Cup final after 2010. The 2021 T20 World Cup final hence will feature two evenly matched teams up against each other, aiming for their respective maiden titles.
Ahead of the summit clash, we take a look at some of the key match-ups and player battles.
David Warner vs Trent Boult and Tim Southee
The Australian opener has found it difficult to face the New Zealand left-armer, scoring only 21 off 23 in T20s, at a strike rate of 109.5. In their only T20I series meeting, back in 2018, Boult had dismissed Warner once, conceding 14 runs in 17 balls at a strike rate of 82.4. However, against Southee, Warner has scored at a dominating strike rate of 208.3 in T20Is and has been dismissed only once in T20s, scoring 36 off 23.
Martin Guptill vs Mitchell Starc
Since 2018, Guptill has a strike rate of just 85 against left-arm pacers in T20Is, and has been dismissed seven times. Australia would hence want Mitchell Starc to take care of the Blackcaps, who he last faced in 2012 in the format.
Adam Zampa vs Kane Williamson
In the last two years in T20 cricket, Williamson has shown signs of discomfort against the right-arm leg break variety, scoring at a strike rate of just 110.3, the second-lowest among all types of attack after left-arm pace. And in the last two IPL campaigns in the UAE, his strike rate against the variety fell to 102.8 for just one dismissal. Australia would hence want to introduce Zampa into the attack when the New Zealand skipper steps in. The Aussie leggie has dismissed him twice in 38 balls, conceding only 37 runs, and has also dismissed him twice in ODI cricket as well.
Zampa could also be used when New Zealand bring in Tim Seifert, who has managed a strike rate of just 84.7 against the variety, his lowest against any kind of bowler in the last two years in T20 cricket.
Glenn Maxwell against right-handers?
Not the recommended match-up and hence New Zealand's right-handers would want to make the most of attacking the fifth-bowling option, but not all. Since 2020 in T20s, Williamson has a strike rate of 142.6 against right-arm offbreak, 142.9 for Tim Seifert, 133.3 for Martin Guptill. However, Daryl Mitchell has been dismissed thrice by the variety, having registered a strike rate of 128.7 and two dismissals for Glenn Philips as well, for a strike rate of 120.4.
Ish Sodhi the key?
Australian batters have among the worst strike rate against right-ram legbreak variety, registering only 113.45 with a dismissal every 10 balls in 2021. Hence Ish Sodhi, who has been impressive in the tournament picking 11 wickets at a strike rate of just 12, will be the key against Australia. He has dismissed Finch and Marcus Stoinis thrice in T20Is and Warner twice in eight balls.