After three weeks of what was for the most part terrific cricket, Australia emerged victorious at the 2021 T20 World Cup. They became the sixth different team to win it in just seven editions and were among the more surprising winners of the competition’s somewhat brief history.
Here’s what we made of the event at Bet India…
Were Australia deserving winners?
On the one hand, yes. Australia won six out of seven games at the tournament and put in particularly strong performances in the semi-final and final.
And cricket isn’t like, say, football. When Greece famously won Euro 2004, they won their last three games 1-0, 1-0 and 1-0.
They played a dour brand of football and quite frankly, got very lucky. In cricket, even T20, it’s a longer game and it’s very rare you can suggest luck played such a big part over so many deliveries in the game itself.
But there’s another side to the coin. And ironically, a real coin. They won six out of seven tosses at the World Cup and in each of those toss wins, batted second.
The one game they didn’t win? You guessed it: the one game they batted first, where they were absolutely hammered by England in the Group Stages.
But of course, it’s not Aaron Finch’s fault he won so many tosses. And unlike Afghanistan, who famously won the toss against Pakistan and chose to bat first rather than chase (they lost the match), at least he made the right decision at the toss every time.
The toss bias
The ICC did a good job at this tournament, especially when you consider that they weren’t even meant to host it; Australia were.
There were no unwanted controversies, poor umpiring or anything else that left a bad taste in the mouth.
Well, there was just one thing.
Consider this: in 12 out of 13 matches in Dubai (where the final was played) during the World cup, the team chasing won.
We’ve been going on about it all tournament but the reasons why chasing was such an advantage were: it’s easier to know how to bat (second) when you know what you’re chasing, the wicket becomes quicker with dew and easier to find the boundary, and the same dew makes the ball harder to bowl, and catch.
So you could make the joke that in Dubai, after the toss was made, you might as well pack your bags, not bother actually playing the game and go home. Because the chaser was (almost) always going to win.
So it was a bit of a shame that the toss was such a factor. Had England or Pakistan won it in their respective semis and we would probably have had a different winner.
But just like it wasn’t Finch’s fault he won so many tosses, it also wasn’t the ICC’s fault that things played out that way.
We’ve talked about the toss already so we won’t go there again. But we do need to point out that New Zealand didn’t help their own cause.
The only way they were going to win the game batting first was to post at least 185 or more on the board. And the only way they were going to do that, was to be aggressive from the outset.
Instead, they stumbled to 57/1 after 10 overs and were it not for a quite brilliant innings of 85 from skipper Kane Williamson, their score would have been 20 runs short and it would have been more of a walk in the park for Australia than it ended up being.
Williamson, by the way, was one of the guilty parties in getting off to such a slow start.
But credit to Josh Hazlewood for returning figures of 3-16, David Warner for getting his side off to yet another excellent start (53 off 38) and man of the match Mitch Marsh for his 77 off 50 that put the match to bed.
Another World Cup, another disappointment. It seems a long time ago now that MS Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh and co were celebrating that 2007 win over Pakistan. They’ve since made just the one final, and lost it.
Yes, India lost two important tosses against Pakistan and New Zealand and ultimately, that was what cost them.
But they were guilty of exactly the same thing as New Zealand were in the final: they batted far too slowly in the first 10 overs of both those games. The idea being they could then score heavily in the last three or four overs.
But doing so against the likes of Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf, Trent Boult and Tim Southee is easier said than done.
Hindsight is a fine thing but maybe the free-spirited and big-hitting Ishan Kishan should have been given more of a chance. And maybe the wily Ravi Ashwin should have played ahead of Varun Chakravarthy in those first two games. Why didn’t they pick Ruturaj Gaikwad in the squad after he was fresh from being the IPL’s top scorer? I guess in all three cases, we’ll never know.
But so ends a chapter. Virat Kohli has played his last game as India’s T20 skipper and the smart money’s on Rohit Sharma taking over. Let’s see if he learns from some of Kohli’s mistakes.
Unsung heroes of the 2021 T20 World Cup
David Warner was Player of the Tournament after ending up as the second-highest run scorer, just 14 runs off the Pakistani skipper Babar Azam.
The difference being that Warner came good when it mattered in the semi and final and that he ended up on the winning side.
But let’s consider some of the less-obvious players who shone at the tournament:
Hasaranga de Silva – Sri Lanka
In a side who had its moments but ultimately lacked a bit of experience and quality when it mattered most, Hasaranga shone like a beacon.
He took a hat-trick against South Africa, he took 3-21 against England and finished as the tournament’s top wicket taker with 16, albeit having played at least one more game than the Australian and New Zealand bowlers and two more than the beaten semi-finalists.
He also scored 119 runs at the brilliant strike rate of 148. He’s on course to be one of T20’s great stars.
David Wiese – Namibia
In many ways, he was Namibia’s Hasaranga. Also an all-rounder, it was often all down to him and he didn’t disappoint.
Six wickets in eight games is solid rather than spectacular but there was little wrong with his economy rate: 7.42.
He was more impressive with the bat. Despite batting down at five or six, he was his team’s top scorer with 227 runs.
His 66 not out against the Netherlands in the Qualifying Round went a long way to his side even getting to the Super 12 stage.
Josh Hazlewood – Australia
By all accounts, Hazlewood shouldn’t even be a T20 bowler at all.
He’s far better suited to Test cricket with his line and length bowling just outside off stump.
But he decided to give T20 a real go and is the only player to have won both this year’s IPL (with CSK) and the World Cup.
He improved considerably during the 2021 IPL as a T20 bowler and even started using a few variations, such as the knuckle ball. He could easily have been man of the match in the final after returning figures of 3-16.
But instead, he can contend himself with taking 11 wickets in seven matches at an economy rate of 7.29 and ending up as a World Cup winner.
He’ll surely have a huge role to play in the upcoming Ashes tour.