Australia beats New Zealand to claim Twenty20 World Cup

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Mitchell Marsh and David Warner plundered half centuries as Australia won its first Twenty20 cricket World Cup with an eight-wicket victory over New Zealand in Sunday’s final.

New Zealand lost the all-important toss, was sent in to bat and posted 172-4.

Skipper Kane Williamson, dropped on 21, led the way by scoring 85 off 48 balls, but his lineup was pegged back by Australian paceman Josh Hazlewood, who returned impressive figures of 3-16.

Marsh, who belted fast bowler Adam Milne for six off the first delivery he faced when he went to the crease with Australia at 15-1, finished unbeaten on 77 off 50 balls. He shared a 92-run second-wicket partnership with Warner, who scored 53 off 38, to help Australia reach 173-2 with seven balls to spare. The victory also ensured Australia kept intact its unbeaten record against the Black Caps in knockout games since 1981.

Australia, a five-time winner of the 50-over World Cup, was in poor form in the T20 format leading into the tournament and Warner was struggling to get game time in the Indian Premier League.

The form turned around quickly when it counted, with Australia winning all but one game and Warner winning the award for player of the series.

“This is huge, to be the first Australia team to do it, so proud of how the guys went about the campaign,” Australia captain Aaron Finch said. “Can’t believe people wrote (Warner) off a couple of weeks ago, it was almost like poking the bear.”

After setting up Australia’s run chase with Warner, Marsh continued with Glenn Maxwell (28 not out) in an unbroken 66-run stand.

Earlier, Hazlewood got the key wicket of in-form Daryl Mitchell (11) with a brilliant slower ball in an impressive three-over spell during the powerplay as the Black Caps crawled to 57-1 by the halfway stage of their innings.

But Williamson, dropped by Hazlewood at fine leg, cut loose against Australia’s fastest bowler Mitchell Starc, who returned 0-60 — the most expensive figures in a T20 World Cup final.

Williamson smashed seven of his 10 boundaries against Starc besides hitting the left-arm fast bowler for one of his three sixes. Hazlewood returned in the 18th over and had both Glenn Phillips (18) and Williamson caught in the deep in the space of four balls.

Australia had successfully chased down a 177-run target against Pakistan in the semifinals at Dubai, and a drier pitch made things easier for the likes of Marsh and Warner.

Both batters dictated the New Zealand seamers on a dry wicket after Finch (5) holed out at deep mid-wicket off a short delivery from Trent Boult (2-18).

New Zealand’s hopes of Ish Sodhi striking in the middle overs backfired with both Marsh and Warner dominating the legspinner, who conceded 40 off his three overs.

Boult returned and clean bowled Warner, but then couldn’t hold onto a return catch off the last ball of his spell with Australia needing just 15 for victory off 19 balls.

New Zealand’s 172 was the same total which it had successfully defended against Scotland in a group game at the same venue earlier this month. The other 12 games at Dubai International Cricket Stadium were won by teams which batted second.

“They’re (Australia) a fantastic side, had a brilliant campaign and came out and turned it on,” said Williamson, whose team had knocked out England with a five-wicket victory in the semifinals. “Credit to the way Australia chased it, they didn’t give us an inch. But proud of how we’ve operated … there are only two possible outcomes, shame we couldn’t get the job done.”

The New Zealanders, inaugural winners of the World Test Championship earlier this year, have still never won a title in one of the ICC’s white-ball World Cups.

In 2019, New Zealand and England met at Lord’s in the final of the 50-over World Cup. Neither team had ever won the trophy. The final finished in an unprecedented tie, and the outcome couldn’t be decided after a tiebreaker — a so-called Super Over. England was awarded the title on a countback of boundaries.

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