In the end, the neutrals longing for the drama of a World Cup final may have gone home disappointed, but the Aussies won’t care.
Their wait for the first T20 World Cup trophy ended on Sunday with an emphatic eight-wicket victory over New Zealand.
The tournament saw two riveting semifinal duels with New Zealand and Australia pulling off dramatic chases against England and Pakistan.
But Australia were just too strong for New Zealand in the final at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Sunday.
Even a magical display of batting from Kane Williamson failed to prolong Australia’s trophy drought in the T20 format.
The five-time one-day world champions now finally have the T20 World Cup trophy in their cabinet.
And few could have expected David Warner, who had endured a nightmarish IPL, to be the hero of a triumphant Australian campaign.
But Warner had the perfect redemption.
Having played the lead role in Australia’s run to the final, Warner (53, 38 balls, 4 fours, 3 sixes) was magnificent again, helping Australia chase down 173 and earning the player of the tournament award for his 289 runs from seven matches.
Warner was not the only Australian to silence the critics.
Mitchell Marsh has spent much of his career enduring ridicule from media and fans, having never cemented his place in the team despite earning numerous chances.
But on Sunday when captain Aaron Finch (5) was bounced out by the brilliant Trent Boult (4-0-18-2), Marsh (77 not out, 50 balls, 6 fours and 4 sixes) walked in at number three and played the innings of his life.
The 30-year-old Marsh was superb from the start with his clinical shot-making and ended New Zealand’s hopes of a fightback.
Despite Warner’s fall in the 13th over with Australia still needing 63 runs off 46 balls, Marsh continued to play with freedom as he guided the Aussies home with a fine unbroken third-wicket partnership with Glenn Maxwell (28 not out, 18 balls, 4 fours, 1 six).
"I don't really have words, what an amazing six weeks with this group. Love them to death. World champs,” a jubilant Marsh said after his man-of-the-match performance.
Finch was naturally over the moon after becoming the first Australian captain to lift the T20 World Cup trophy.
"This is huge, to be the first Australia team to do it. So proud of how the guys went about the campaign,” said Finch whose team fought back in style after being thrashed by England in the Super 12.
New Zealand failed to put any pressure on the field as Boult was left fighting a lone battle against the dominant Aussie batsmen as Dubai witnessed another victory for the chasing team.
But the best batting display of the final came from the captain of the losing team, Williamson (85 off 48 balls, 10 fours, 3 sixes).
It was Williamson’s shot-making that helped New Zealand post a challenging total of 172 for four.
Put into bat, New Zealand got off to a slow start against an Australian attack that produced a disciplined effort in the powerplay.
Even the free-flowing Martin Guptill (28 off 35) was kept on a tight leash as the Kiwis crawled to 32 for one in the first six overs.
Having failed to score a single half-century in his previous 10 T20 innings, Williamson made a slow start in the final after Daryl Mitchell (11) was dismissed by Josh Hazlewood (4-0-16-3) in the fourth over.
The classy batsman soon found his range but needed a slice of luck in the 11th over of the innings when Hazlewood dropped him in the deep off Mitchell Starc (4-0-60-0) with the ball rolling onto the boundary.
Williamson rubbed salt to Starc’s wounds by hitting the next two balls for fours before demolishing the Australian leg-arm pacer five overs later.
The Kiwi captain launched a stunning assault on the veteran Australian bowler, picking 22 runs in the 16th over.
Williamson’s 68-run partnership for the third wicket with Glenn Phillips (18) came off just 35 balls.
But his supreme effort failed to earn New Zealand their first World Cup title in white-ball format.
"Nice to build some partnerships and get what we thought was a competitive total, only to be chased superbly. They're a fantastic side, had a brilliant campaign and came out and turned it on,” the Kiwi skipper admitted.
And Warner credited the Aussie coaching staff for their final hurrah under Dubai’s iconic Ring of Fire.
“These are a great bunch of guys, great support staff, and great support around the world, especially back home,” he said.
“Always pumped, wanted to put on a spectacle. There were some nerves around as always in a final but great to see the guys deliver."
Australia beat New Zealand by 8 wickets
New Zealand 172/4 in 20 overs (Kane Williamson 85, Martin Guptill 28; Josh Hazlewood 3/16, Adam Zampa 1/26)
Australia 173/2 in 18.5 overs (Mitchell Marsh 77 not out, David Warner 53; Trent Boult 2/18)
Player of the Match: Mitchell Marsh
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