Utkarsh Deshpande is a mechanical engineer-turned content writer who has written extensively for both print and digital mediums.
In March 2018, the cricketing world was shocked due to the ball tampering incident that took place in the game between Australia and South Africa. In response to the incident, there was a flurry of changes in the Australian management. While Tim Paine and Aaron Finch were handed the Test and ODI-T20I captaincies respectively, Justin Langer took the reins from Darren Lehman as the Head Coach.
After dismal outings in the rest of bilateral tournaments in 2018, Australia entered the 2019 ODI World Cup with a glimmer of hope as the ban on their two ace players—Steven Smith and David Warner—was lifted. The defending champions, however, could not live up to the expectations and only made it to the semi-final of the tournament. Even after the historic win in the Ashes after the world cup, the mighty Kangaroos still looked unsettled as they kept performing below par in the succeeding tournaments after the world cup.
The T-20 World Cup 2020 was the next big assignment for the men in yellow as questions were being raised against the team selection, Finch’s captaincy, as well as Langer’s out-of-the-box coaching style. However, the tournament was postponed by a year, courtesy of the COVID-19 outbreak. Initially set to happen in India, the World Cup was shifted to the UAE due to the pandemic.
When the dates of the World Cup were announced, the cricket pundits started predicting the probable candidates who could win the trophy this year. While many backed England on the back of their terrific white-ball record in recent times, many also predicted the likes of India and Pakistan to get their hands on the trophy, given the subcontinent advantage.
Surprisingly, not many chose Australia as a candidate as the team was on a losing streak in the several T-20 bilateral series prior to the big event. Australia’s squad selection was also questioned as a majority of its ODI and test players were included and the team lacked T-20 specialists. Thus, despite of its prolific history with the World Cups, the team entered the tournaments as underdogs.
The men in yellow started off their campaign with a low-scoring thriller against South Africa. After restricting the proteas to a modest total of 119, the Kangaroos were expected to chase down the total with a large margin. However, the batting unit struggled to get going on the slow, tacky Abu Dhabi pitch, somehow managing to finish the game with a couple of balls to spare.
In the next game against Sri Lanka, the batsmen seemed to have found some rhythm as Australia chased down the total of 155 with 3 over to spare to register an impressive win. The big news from this game was David Warner getting back in form.
After making it two in two, Australia had to take on the herculean task of beating the arch-rivals England. The game turned out to be a wake-up call for the Aussies as England completely outplayed them in all departments—registering a dominant win by 8 wickets. The vulnerability of the top order against a quality bowling attack was again exposed as Australia’s semi-final hopes also started to fade slightly.
When it mattered the Most…
In the semi-final, Australia took on Pakistan—the table-toppers from Group B. Coming undefeated into the semis, Pakistan dominated the game from ball one and posted a mighty total of 176-4 in their 20 overs. The men in green’s pace battery, combined with wily spin shined once again as they were able to pick up quick wickets to restrict the Aussies at 97-5 in 13 overs.
With a herculean task ahead, Matthew Wade joined Marcus Stoinis at the crease. Steering the ship steadily, the duo brought the game close as Australia needed 22 from the last two overs. Reliving what Mike Hussey did to Pakistan in the 2010 T-20 World cup, Matthew Wade took Pakistan’s best bowler Shaheen Afridi to the cleaners and finished the game with an over to spare.
A Strong Comeback
The identity of an Australian team in the cricketing world is exemplified by the never-say-die attitude. After the embarrassing defeat against England, the team got back to the basics, made sure all the bases were covered, and regrouped to comprehensively beat Bangladesh by 8 wickets with more than 80 balls to spare.
This win boosted the team’s morale as well as the net run rate up—which later became a distinguishing factor. Picking up from where they left, the men in yellow managed to beat the star-studded West Indies in their next encounter and entered the semi-finals on the back of a healthy net run rate.
On the big night of the final, Australia locked horns with the gritty New Zealand side. New Zealand, on the back of Captain Kane Williamson’s brilliant 85, posted a fighting total of 172-4 in 20 overs. Chasing a formidable total, the Aussies got off to a slow start and lost the wicket of the Captain early.
In came Mitchell Marsh and started taking the attack to the Kiwis from ball one. Hammering bowlers to all parts of the ground, Marsh quickly started taking the game away from New Zealand. He was equally accompanied by Warner who made a well-compiled half century as Australia cruised to register their first-ever T-20 World Cup victory.
The Road to Glory
Won by 5 wickets
Won by 7 wickets
Lost by 8 wickets
Won by 8 wickets
Won by 8 wickets
Won by 5 wickets
Won by 8 wickets
A Collective Team Effort
It is a popular saying in cricket that “Individuals win you matches; a good team wins you tournaments.” After continuous setbacks in the past few years, the Australian cricket team indeed required a collective team effort to beat the odds and the same was seen throughout the tournament.
In each game, we saw different people taking the responsibility to win the match for the side. Warner, Finch, and Marsh in the top order were complemented well by the likes of Wade and Stoinis in the middle and lower-middle order. The trio of pacers in Starc, Hazelwood, and Cummins alongside the leg spinner Adam Zampa also played their parts in restricting the opposition to modest totals. Aaron Finch’s captaincy at crucial stages was also spot on.
After the Australian women won the T-20 World Cup last year in front of a pack MCG, this win is another feather in the cap for Australian cricket. The country will host the T-20 World cup in 2022 and will start the tournament as a defending champions as well as a strong contender for lifting up the trophy once again!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Mirror Review