Australia lifted their maiden men’s T20 World Cup title, defeating rivals New Zealand by eight wickets in a disappointingly one-sided final. The Aussies were not among the favourites to win the crown. Pakistan, England and India were picked among the top contenders to lift the trophy. However, Australia exceeded all expectations and ended up going all the way. They got off to a comparatively subdued start but peaked as the business end of the tournament drew closer. Following Australia’s emphatic win, we look at five reasons why the Aussies were crowned champions.
1. David Warner’s return to form: Going into the tournament, there were severe question marks over his form. He was not picked in the playing XI for his IPL franchise Sunrisers Hyderabad, a team that was synonymous with him till the start of this year’s edition. However, David Warner put the disappointment behind him and chose the global cricketing stage to prove his talent, if at all people had doubt over it. Warner’s unbeaten 89 against West Indies clinched a semis berth for Australia. He top-scored for the team in the terrific semis against Pakistan and laid the platform for Australia’s victory with a fine hand in the final.
2. The Zampa-Josh combo: PacersMitchell Starc and Pat Cummins were expected to do the bulk of the wicket-taking for Australia. But while the two failed, Adam Zampa and Josh Hazlewood rose to the challenge. Zampa foxed batters with his subtle variations and hardly gave anything away while picking up wickets at will. Hazlewood, on the other hand, used his IPL experience and varied his pace on the slow and dry pitches. Since both Zampa and Hazlewood were on top of their game, the opposition batters did not get much scope to relax, at least for eight of the 20 overs.
3. Mitchell Marsh – The unexpected hero: The decision to move Mitchell Marsh to number three was an inspired one. It was a risky proposition. Marsh has had his battles with injury and inconsistency in the past. However, heading into the T20 World Cup, the all-rounder had given enough glimpses to prove that he could do a good job, especially with the bat. Australia backed him and Marsh did not disappoint. He scored a brutal fifty against West Indies and reserved his best for the final, scoring a World Cup-winning 77 not out off 50 balls. Clearly, he was the unexpected hero for Australia in the T20 World Cup.
4. Their unwavering belief in their ability: There were a couple of occasions during the tournament when Australia were in serious trouble. Their campaign threatened to get derailed after they were hammered by England in the group clash. However, Australia recovered quickly with a dominating win over Bangladesh to get their tournament back on track. In the semi-finals against Pakistan, they were on the back foot for the majority of the chase. Yet, they found a way to come up trumps with Matthew Wade playing a blinder. Both instances clearly indicate that Australia never lost belief in their ability.
5. The freshness factor: In the build-up to the T20 World Cup, most critics pointed out that Australia were a disjointed team since the players had hardly played any T20 cricket together. Their main players actually took a rest by skipping the twin tours of Bangladesh and the West Indies. In hindsight, this actually proved to be a blessing in disguise as Australia were the freshest of all teams that took part in the competition. Unlike India, most of their players had not stayed in bio-bubbles heading into the T20 World Cup, which meant they were physically and mentally fresh. This reflected in their clear thought process and overall performance out in the middle. Australia bowled a wrong’un to experts and made them eat their words with a terrific all-round display.