After 20 days of cricketing action in the UAE, the 2021 ICC T20 World Cup came to conclusion with unfancied Australia smashing New Zealand by eight wickets in Dubai on Sunday. On the biggest day, Kane Williamson’s batting masterclass came in vain for New Zealand as Australia beat their neighbours to win the T20 World Cup title for the first time.
Now that the tournament is over, here is a look back at some of the memorable moments.
INNINGS OF THE TOURNAMENT
If you consider the knockout stages of any World Cup to be the most important, then runs score in such situations count for the most. And while each of the three knockout stage matches threw up several stand-out innings, it was the brilliant unbeaten 72 from Daryl Mitchell that steered New Zealand past England in the first semi-final which rings loudest.
Watched by his father, former All Blacks rugby coach John, the 30-year-old Mitchell played the innings of his Blackcaps career with his team struggling on a two-paced Abu Dhabi track in pursuit of England’s 166. From 46 off 40 balls, Mitchell – who before this World Cup had not opened in T20 cricket – finished an improbable chase with 19 of the 20 runs that came off Chris Woakes’ final over.
Having, in the company of Devon Conway, helped to prevent a collapse and gradually rebuilding the innings, Mitchell surged to his fifty in the company of Jimmy Neesham and ensured the job was done.
BOWLING OF THE TOURNAMENT
There were two hat-tricks, a record three-wicket opening over from Namibia’s Ruben Trumplemann and some lovely legspin on view in the tournament. But on the biggest night of the World Cup, it was a clever four overs from Australia’s Josh Hazlewood that proved pivotal in his team’s biggest T20I game of all time.
Roughly a month on from starring in Chennai Super Kings’ IPL title triumph at the same Dubai venue, Hazlewood claimed two three wickets for just 16 runs in the final. Cleverly cutting down on his pace after seeing Martin Guptill start strongly against Mitchell Starc up front, Hazlewood bowled a terrific first spell of 1/9 from three overs as just nine runs came off the second half of the Powerplay.
Miserly with the ball, Hazlewood then dropped Williamson when he was on 21, but returned to remove the New Zealand captain off his penultimate delivery of the game. His three wickets capped Hazlewood’s resurgence as a potent bowler in T20Is and made a huge impact in Australia winning their first T20 World Cup.
BALL OF THE TOURNAMENT
In one spell, Pakistan’s left-arm quick Shaheen Shah Afridi bowled two deliveries which vie for this title. Shaheen, 21, delivered a terrific start for Pakistan by pinning Rohit Sharma lbw for a golden duck in his first over and then bowling KL Rahul for 3 with a quick nip-backer in his third, as India slipped to 6/2. Both wicket-taking deliveries were excellent.
To Rohit, who entered the World Cup short of T20 form, Shaheen bowled a deliciously late-moving inswinger that the batsman failed to pick entirely. Bowled from a high release, that ball deceived Rohit for pace and movement and struck him low on the pads. Afridi was off in celebration, even before the umpire’s verdict.
Then, to Rahul, came a ball that was not as full as the batsman expected. Rahul shaped to work it across the stumps towards midwicket, but the ball cut back in late and beat his bat to hit the top of middle stump. India were 6/2 and Afridi had put Pakistan on their way to a ten-wicket thrashing that ended 29 years of defeats to India in World Cups.
Between the two, the delivery to flummox Rohit was the better one, because of how late he got that yorker to swing. What is it about Pakistan left-arm quicks to Indian top-order batsmen?
CAMEO OF THE TOURNAMENT
Rivalling Pakistan’s ice-cool finisher Asif Ali for the cameo of the World Cup is New Zealand allrounder Neesham, who against England during the first semi-final aided Man of the Match Mitchell with a blistering innings of 27 from 11 balls when his team faced the massive hurdle of scoring 57 from 24 deliveries.
To bowl the 17th over of the innings, Chris Jordan came back into the attack. He started with a length delivery, which Neesham dragged over midwicket for six. Two leg-byes followed from a leg-stump yorked, and then two wides. Neesham drilled the next ball straight down the ground for four, and then came a stunning moment. Jordan went length again and Neesham heaved towards wide long-on, where Jonny Bairstow put in a stunning diving catch which was parried to Liam Livingstone, but replays showed that Bairstow’s knee had brushed the boundary. The last ball was also slugged to that same region, but this time the two same fielders left it alone and Neesham stole two more runs, thus making it 23 for the over – the most expensive of the tournament.
Australia’s Mathew Wade played a similar cameo in the second semi-final the day after, but for sheer ballsiness, and with the clinical intent he showed from ball one, Neesham’s effort stands out marginally more.
CATCH OF THE TOURNAMENT
Shimron Hetmyer. Charles Amini. Nurul Hasan. Neesham. Aiden Markram. Richie Barrington. Devon Conway. Take your pick for the best catch of the World Cup. Tough picks, all of these, but for this writer it is Conway’s boundary take that pips them all.
In New Zealand’s opening match against Pakistan, Conway claimed a spectacular diving catch which helped make the fixture into one of the special moments of week one. Conway’s stunning effort to sprint around the boundary and cling onto the offering from Mohammed Hafeez left Pakisan at 63/3 with nine overs left and 72 runs to get. They finished on the winning side, but Conway’s sensational grab at full stretch was one for the ages.