Forty-five matches, 12162 runs and 526 wickets later, Australia are champions of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021. Here we look back at ten defining moments of a tournament that will live long in the memory…
Scotland's win over Bangladesh
The first day of the tournament provided an upset that blew the First Round wide open, with Scotland deserving winners over a Bangladesh side who were ranked sixth in the world at the start of the tournament.
Chris Greaves was the star, hitting 45 off 28 to lift Scotland to a decent total after a collapse in the middle overs, before taking 2/19 to help complete the job. Mark Watt, who subsequently proved to be Scotland’s stand-out man, also chipped in, with a handy 22 and a typically economical 1/19 off four overs.
Scotland’s progress to the Super 12 stage was a significant achievement for Kyle Coetzer’s side, not least because it guaranteed their qualification for the next edition of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup in Australia
Namibia's win over Ireland
The chance to qualify for the Super 12 stage came down to a shoot-out between Namibia and Ireland in Group A, and it was the African side, competing at their first-ever men’s T20 World Cup, who sizzled in Sharjah to take their tournament into the latter weeks of the competition.
It wasn’t just the victory itself but the nature of the win that was so important, as it showcased just why Namibia could and should be considered a threat to many of the world’s better T20I teams in the next World Cup cycle.
A superb team performance with the ball restricted Ireland to 125/8, with Jan Frylinck’s 3/21 and David Wiese’s 2/22 the star turns. And Wiese also delivered with the bat, making the run-chase look remarkably comfortable as he smoked 28 off 14 balls to wrap up the chase with nine deliveries remaining alongside captain Gerard Erasmus, whose unbeaten half-century oozed class.
Namibia will be back in 2022 at the next ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, and on this evidence they will be one to watch.
Pakistan's win over India
Australia are champions, but arguably the most memorable image of the tournament was Shaheen Shah Afridi with arms outstretched after dismissing both of India’s openers to set up a stunning opening win for Pakistan over one of the pre-tournament favourites.
Afridi’s Powerplay strikes set the tone for a match that Pakistan dominated against their neighbours, with Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan starting as they meant to go on at the top of the order, producing a 152-run partnership to beat India by ten wickets with more than two overs remaining.
For Pakistan to win in such a manner set them on course for a spot in the final four, while the crushing nature of the defeat set the tone for a tournament to forget for India.
New Zealand's win over India
The Black Caps took their chance against an Indian side shaken by the loss to Pakistan, heaping pressure on the India top order with a high-quality display of Powerplay bowling that left Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli needing to launch a rescue operation after both being pushed down the order in a selection reshuffle.
But the rescue never came as India limped to 110/7, with just two of their batters scoring at better than a run-a-ball. New Zealand’s dominant reply saw them need just 14.3 overs to knock the score off for the loss of two wickets, ultimately knocking India out of the tournament.
Australia's win over South Africa
The very first match of the Super 12 stage ended up being one of the most significant. Neither Australia nor South Africa went into the tournament particularly highly-fancied, but the Aussies showed some of their strengths in a game that set them on course to the title.
All five members of the attack took wickets in a display of bowling power that proved a feature of the tournament. And there were also hints of things to come in the successful chase.
The slow and steady pace of the reply prompted a slight rethink in batting line-up later in the tournament, a significant switch, and it was Marcus Stoinis and Matthew Wade whose late 40-run partnership upped the rate and saw Australia across the line.
It was a win that saw Australia qualify at South Africa’s expense for the semi-finals as things panned out, and also prompted the Australian selectors to give their power-hitters more time out in the middle as the tournament progressed.
Bravo and Gayle’s farewell
The fairytale finish for two of the best T20 players to ever grace the game didn’t materialise, but West Indies’ final match against Australia did give Dwayne Bravo one final chance to take to the field in international cricket before his retirement.
A two-time T20 World Cup winner, with 1255 runs and 78 wickets in T20Is to his name, Bravo is an all-time great, playing a large part in not just West Indies’ rise to the top of the sport, but also in the evolution of T20 death bowling. It was an emotional moment for DJ as he soaked in the adoration of his teammates in Abu Dhabi.
Another of Bravo's teammates and a fellow T20 legend also appeared to call time on at the very least his World Cup career as he waved goodbye to the tournament.
Gayle’s dismissal of Mitchell Marsh as he rolled back the years with an over of spin provided celebrations that few who saw them will ever forget – T20's greatest entertainer finishing in style.
England go past 131 against South Africa
Eventual champions Australia needed the help of some familiar foes to send them through the Super 12 stage.
England had smashed the Aussies earlier in the group stage to leave them sweating on net run rate going into the final round of matches. Big wins over Bangladesh and West Indies had made things slightly more comfortable, but Finch and his teammates would have been watching on nervously when South Africa took on the English needing a big margin of victory to knock Australia out on NRR.
And those nerves would have been jangling when the Proteas smashed 189 to increase the chances of that unfolding. As it happened the moment that sent Australia through seemed rather uneventful as England rolled past the required point of 131 with just three wickets down to do the Aussies a big favour. But it was a moment that ended up defining the tournament in many ways.
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Jimmy Neesham v Chris Jordan
New Zealand required 57 from the final four overs with James Neesham on strike and Chris Jordan at the top of his mark. But eight deliveries later the match was flipped on its head.
Jordan mixed it up between going for yorkers and darting the ball outside of Neesham’s arc. But all-but-one of the former missed their spot and went the distance, and Jordan pushed it too far with the latter to go for two wides in the over too.
Yet while Jordan was left ruing an over to forget, it still needed to be put away, and Neesham was brutal in his takedown of England’s premier death bowler, with 19 runs coming off the bat and 23 in total to put the Black Caps on course for a famous win.
Matthew Wade vs Shaheen Shah Afridi
Just as Neesham had done in the first semi-final, Matthew Wade produced some devastating power-hitting at the death to flip Australia’s match against Pakistan on its head.
The Aussies had required 50 from the last four overs, and ate into that tally with two decent overs off Haris Rauf and Hasan Ali to get it down to 22 from 12 balls. But star man Shaheen Shah Afridi was to bowl the 19th, coming back into the attack following his stunning turn at the top of the innings.
A failed review for LBW preceded a full-angled delivery that Wade miscued into the deep, only for Ali to put the chance down. And that was the lifeline that Australia’s keeper-batter needed.
The very next ball he went down on one knee, ready for the yorker, and ramped a shot over fine leg for six.
Next up he scorched a monster maximum over midwicket, picking up a cutter and giving it the treatment.
And Wade ensured the final over wasn’t even needed when he scooped again for six to wrap up a remarkable win.
Mitch Marsh’s explosive start
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson had said prior to the final that the result would hinge on moments, pieces of individual brilliance. And one such moment came after Mitchell Marsh took guard for the first time at the start of the fourth over.
Australia’s number three relishes facing pace bowling – it was the primary reason for his promotion up the order. And Marsh revelled in the match-up against Adam Milne, hitting the very first ball he faced for an enormous six, following that up with consecutive fours to race to 14 off just three balls.
It not only gave his side momentum that David Warner picked up and ran with, but also sent confidence almost visibly coursing through Marsh’s veins at the start of what proved to be a match-winning knock.
The all-rounder went on to hit 63 more off his next 47 balls to be out in the middle at the moment of triumph for Australia.
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