It all started when Oman won the toss and elected to bowl against Papua New Guinea four weeks ago. And forty-four matches, 11153 runs and 485 wickets later, the 16 nations that began this thrilling tournament have been whittled down to just two.
Sunday’s showpiece at the Dubai International Stadium will see the world’s fourth-ranked side New Zealand take on the country ranked sixth, Australia. And it’s a fitting finale to decide who will lift the T20 World Cup trophy after a tournament of twists and turns, highs and lows, upsets and hammerings.
Yet just because few predicted this would be the final line-up, doesn’t mean the players didn’t believe. And Aussie skipper Aaron Finch was in boisterous form on precisely that topic in his media conference on Saturday.
“I’m not surprised one bit,” he said. “I think we came here with a really clear plan to win the tournament, and we still feel as though we’ve got the squad to do that.”
And Sunday’s all-Antipodean clash in Dubai represents a chance for Kane Williamson and his boys to cap off a stunning calendar year by finally adding a white-ball trophy to the cabinet, where it will sit alongside the World Test Championship mace. Many will bet against them once again, but you’d be brave to do so.
A glance down the likely team sheet for Sunday’s final supports the captain’s claim. Mitchell Starc, David Warner, Pat Cummins, Glenn Maxwell, Finch – there’s an abundance of talent and experience in the Australian line-up.
Australia are highly likely to stick with the side that saw off Pakistan in the semi-finals
Probable Australia XI: David Warner, Aaron Finch (captain), Mitchell Marsh, Steven Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa, Josh Hazlewood
The injury to Conway means New Zealand will be forced into making a change. Tim Seifert is likely to come in as wicketkeeper, with the bowling-heavy balance unchanged, although the loss of the reliable presence of Conway in the middle-order could potentially see an additional batter brought in for stability.
Probable New Zealand XI: Martin Guptill, Daryll Mitchell, Kane Williamson (captain), Tim Seifert, Glenn Phillips, James Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Adam Milne, Trent Boult, Ish Sodhi