New Zealand rue losing the services of Devon Conway as enterprising Aussies await

Australia proved a stumbling block for Pakistan in the second semi-final of the ICC T20 World Cup 2021. Aaron Finch and his troops got over the line in dramatic fashion as Matthew Wade pilfered three sixes off Shaheen Afridi. They have set up a summit clash with New Zealand. It remains to be noted that the Trans-Tasmania rivals will be squaring off in a final of the world event for the first time since the 2015 edition of the ODI World Cup which was co-hosted by these two nations. The Aussies led by Michael Clarke had then made light work of Blackcaps at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground.

It was barely a lopsided affair. Those who bet on cricket matches would have placed the punt in the favour of Babar Azam & Co. around the halfway mark. Australia were under the cosh at 96/5 in the 13th over before Marcus Stoinis (40*) and Matthew Wade (41*) added an unbeaten 81-run stand that took them over the line with an over to spare. Similarly, the Kiwis had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat as England’s attack faltered at the death at Abu Dhabi’s Shiekh Zayed Stadium.

In the last 14 T20I face-offs between both sides, it is Australia who holds the wood over the BlackCaps having won nine matches with New Zealand registering four victories and one game ending in a tie. When it comes to their head-to-head fixtures in T20 World Cups, it is the Kiwis who prevail as they won by eight runs during the only meeting in the 2016 edition. While New Zealand will have the psychological edge, the odds are stacked against them when it comes to the ICC eliminators against Australia. Apart from the 2015 World Cup final, the Aussies had outperformed the Kiwis in the 1996 World Cup quarterfinal as well as the 2009 edition of the ICC Champions Trophy.

Another concern for Kane Williamson is the unavailability of opener Devon Conway, who has been ruled out having copped an injury after punching his bat after his dismissal in the semi-final. Head coach Gary Stead confirmed that an X-ray on Thursday stated a ‘break to his right hand fifth Metacarpal’. It is a huge blow for the Blackcaps ahead of the summit clash as Conway used to play the role of an enabler to perfection. Can they reign supreme in the summit clash without Conway’s services? Time will tell.