'Forgot to watch the ball'. That's what Brendon McCullum said about his dismissal in the 2015 Cricket World Cup final. It was the first-ever Trans-Tasman final in the history of World Cups- ODI or T20I- and emotions got the better of the Black Caps. They were unbeaten until the final but crumbled under pressure against their eternal rivals Australia in the final.
It's been six years since that day at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and Australia and New Zealand are gearing up for another World Cup final. This time the format is different, conditions are different but the Black Caps will be desperate to avenge that loss in the 2015 World Cup final.
The first-ever Men's T20I was held between Australia and New Zealand way back in 2005. That match was more like an exhibition game as players of both teams had a lot of fun. But now a lot is at stake as they are searching for glory. None of the two teams have won a T20 World Cup and the world will see a new champion on 14 November.
New Zealand have specific bowlers for specific phases
One of the key reasons why New Zealand have been so successful in the World Cup is that their bowlers have been given specific roles and they are doing the job to perfection. Tim Southee bowls at late 120s and early 130s but swings the ball in the powerplay which makes life difficult for batters. The right-arm pacer has an economy rate of 4.71 in between the first and sixth overs and no bowler has been more economical than him in this phase in the Super 12s.
For middle overs, they have a clever operator in Ish Sodhi. Sodhi has taken nine wickets in middle overs (over 7-15) and only Adam Zampa has more wickets than him in this phase. Sodhi's economy rate - 6.63- is on the lower side as well.
Trent Boult is known to be a fine new-ball bowler but he has done exceedingly well at the death in this World Cup. He has gone at 6.92 runs per over in the slog overs and also taken six wickets in this phase.
Picking up early wickets is the key for Australia
New Zealand openers - Martin Guptill and Daryl Mitchell - have batted decently in the World Cup but their opening partnership hasn't clicked yet. Their partnership has been broken every time inside the powerplay with the highest one yielding 36 runs. Australia must take advantage of that and Josh Hazlewood will be the ideal bowler to do that.
Hazlewood has been the best bowler in the powerplay in this tournament, having taken six wickets in that phase. The right-arm quick is the highest wicket-taker in the powerplay in the ongoing tournament. He maintains an impeccable line and length, almost like in the Tests, and makes life difficult for the batters. New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson will rely on him to give early breakthroughs.
Australia's top-order in terrific touch
David Warner peaked at just the right time for Australia. The southpaw has so far scored 236 runs in the tournament at an average of 47 and a staggering strike rate of 148. He scored 49 at a rapid pace against Pakistan in the semifinal as well. Mitchell Marsh has been in prime form with the bat in 2021 batting at number three and played well in the last couple of games. Aaron Finch has also got some runs under his belt in the Super 12s. But it's David Warner who holds the key for Australia right at the top of the order.
Conway's absence may hurt New Zealand
Devon Conway has been a prolific batter for New Zealand across formats since his debut. The left-hander scored a vital 46 off 38 in the semifinal against England. But an injury to his right hand has ruled him out of the World Cup and due to his absence, New Zealand will lose some solidity in the middle order. Conway moved down to number four in the World Cup in order to nullify the spin threat posed by teams in the middle overs.
Conway was the only left-hander in the New Zealand top five and if Tim Seifert replaces him in the final, then the batting line-up will turn one-dimensional.
Fifth bowling option a concern for Australia
Australia are likely to have four frontline bowlers - three seamers and Adam Zampa - in the XI which suggests that the part-timers have to bowl at least four overs if the frontline bowlers bowl their full quota. Glenn Maxwell is a good part-time option and Australia use him both in the powerplay and middle overs. But the right-handedness in the New Zealand batting line-up will be a worry for him as they will try to hit him out of the attack.
Mitchell Marsh hasn't bowled much in this tournament and a lot will depend on how Australia use their part-time options.
The match will begin at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium in Dubai at 6 pm local time (8 pm BDST) on Sunday.