T20 World Cup Wrap: A Trans-Tasman decider for the ages
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Kristy Havill

Not many predicted that New Zealand and Australia would be the two teams standing on top of the world ready to contest the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 final.


In a tournament that brought joyful, surprising, heartbreaking and downright jaw-dropping results and performances at times, that didn’t stop there being two more twists in the tale.


The fact that both underdogs in the semi-finals tipped up their opponents in eerily similar fashion, thousands of miles away from home, and in conditions that aren’t as familiar to them it’s, well, rather beautiful really. And a timely reminder as to why we love the game.


So here we are again, on the precipice of the next chapter in the great Trans-Tasman cricket rivalry. In what will be New Zealand’s debut in a T20 World Cup final, this will be Australia’s first time at the big dance since they were runners-up to England way back in 2010.


Pundits across the ditch may hark back to a time nearly seven years ago that Australia convincingly beat the Blackcaps at the MCG in the 2015 one-day World Cup final. Let’s not even bother getting into that subject.


Instead, let’s take ourselves even further back to 2011 and across codes to the moment that Stephen ‘Beaver’ Donald strode out onto Eden Park and landed a clutch penalty that sent the All Blacks on their way to defeating France in the World Cup final. Instantly immortalised forevermore as a cult hero after downing his tools while whitebaiting to get to the game.


Anyone who enjoyed that yarn might be interested to know that the Blackcaps could have a candidate to the do same thing on Monday morning (3:00am NZT): Tim Seifert. Minus the whitebaiting of course.


Devon Conway’s moment of seeing red after his dismissal and punching his bat has resulted in a broken hand and will now see him not feature in the final, nor in the upcoming Test series against India.


Seifert is the logical replacement. He can reclaim wicketkeeping duties and bring back the hitting firepower and class he has in spades.


Like ‘Beaver’ Donald, Seifert has endured his fair share of setbacks, proudly represents his Waikato-based domestic team, and loves a cold one. Having already featured in the tournament, at least we know his uniform would fit.


2021 hasn’t been kind to him on the cricket front. Formerly ensconced at the top of the order alongside Martin Guptill, he was player of the series against Pakistan at the end of 2020.


Things have fallen away rapidly since then, struggling for runs against Australia and subsequently slipping down the order. The poor bloke also caught Covid on the other side of the world during the first half of the IPL, which delayed his return home to New Zealand.


A middling Caribbean Premier League campaign followed, in which he averaged 22.12 runs at a strike rate of 112.73, before playing one game in the Indian Premier League return, and not making runs for New Zealand in their warm up match against England or in their tournament opener against Pakistan.


He has been on the outer ever since. Until now.


With every player putting their hand up and performing at some point across the tournament, some even in several games, there’s no reason why Seifert can’t do the same against Australia and help us on our way to World Cup glory. We know he’s got it in him, and what better stage to make an emphatic statement. It’s not about the setback, but all about the comeback, after all.


In terms of the Australian line-up, they match up extremely well. There are the two left-armers, Mitchell Starc and Trent Boult. The canny operators, Josh Hazlewood, and Tim Southee. The speed demons, Pat Cummins, and Adam Milne. Not to mention the two leggies, Adam Zampa and Ish Sodhi.


Aaron Finch and Martin Guptill, who are close friends, both stand tall at the top of the order (Finch not so much, he’s a bit shorter). The power of Glenn Phillips and Jimmy Neesham also go toe to toe against Marcus Stoinis and Mitchell Marsh.


Right up and down the line-up, you can almost find a parallel match in the opposition. It bodes well for an almighty showdown, and one that will no doubt seesaw and have us equal parts gasping and cheering.


We know that the Dubai surface will have some runs in it, as evidenced by Pakistan and Australia scoring 176 and 177 runs respectively in the semi-final. That was also the first time that a team had successfully chased 175+ in this edition of the tournament.


Speaking of which, of the 12 matches at the Dubai International Stadium the team batting second has won eleven times. The only anomaly was Scotland failing to chase down New Zealand’s 172. So, as ever, the toss will be extremely important. Looking at New Zealand being listed first on the fixture details, Kane Williamson will have the coin so the pressure will be on Aaron Finch to call correctly. Flip well, skipper.


One last time in this tournament for a 3:00am start New Zealand. Let’s get behind the boys and help them bring it home.  


Prediction: New Zealand win.