A spicy Trans-Tasman tug of war awaits cricket fans in the final of the T20 World Cup in Dubai, when Australia and New Zealand face off in a bid to claim their maiden crown.
Battle lines are drawn, and it will be those mini player battles that would determine the outcome of the match.
Daryl Mitchell is flying high after his unbeaten 72 against England in the semi-final, while similarly, eyes will also be on David Warner, who will look to complete his redemption with a potential title win.
Here, we take a look at some of the important face-offs between key players:
Kane Williamson vs Adam Zampa
Australia spinner Adam Zampa has been in top form in the ongoing T20 World Cup 2021 in the UAE, where bowlers, spinners in particular, seemed to have played a critical role.
Zampa has shown in the tournament that he can prove to be dangerous, especially when his mix of googlies and leg-spin comes into play.
In the final, he will look to change the complexion of the game, and a likely opposition for him will be New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson, who has not posted a 50-plus total, but has shown how he can stabilise the innings with unbeaten knocks of 33 and 40 against India and Afghanistan respectively.
New Zealand have taken a cautious approach in the middle-overs, and that is exactly where Zampa is expected to play a pivotal part. The Kiwis, however, have been dealt with Devon Conway’s hand injury that ruled him out of the final. Having said that, Conway is a better player of spin, and the task will be cut out for Williamson.
Zampa, meanwhile, has been impeccable in terms of spin variations, and took five wickets against Bangladesh. However, he knows the task won’t be easy against the Kiwis, and will gear up for a stiff challenge on Sunday.
David Warner vs Trent Boult
David Warner may not have had an IPL to remember this time around, but the Aussie big-hitter seems to have found his form when it matters the most for his country at the T20 World Cup.
Despite a disappointing outing (14) against South Africa in the first match, Warner returned strongly with a 42-ball 65 against Sri Lanka, and an unbeaten 89 against the West Indies in the final Super 12 contest.
Warner has the tendency to hit from the word go, just like how he showcased in the semi-final against Pakistan, and will be raring to go once again in the powerplay.
A lot will rely on how Trent Boult approaches Warner during this phase. Boult has been among the wickets against every opponent in the tournament barring Pakistan, where he had a rare off day with expensive figures of 0/40.
But, on his day, it could even come down to Boult’s instincts doing the talking, and his main priority against Australia will be to get rid of Warner.
Daryl Mitchell vs Australia pacers
Six matches into New Zealand’s T20 World Cup campaign, and Daryl Mitchell has already caught the eyeballs of many. He’ll be coming fresh from that blistering knock of 72 which helped New Zealand prevail over England.
Mitchell has been used as an opener throughout the tournament , and that decision has worked thus far for the Kiwis, with the batsman aggregating 197 runs from six matches at an average of 39.40.
With the Kiwis missing Conway due to injury, Mitchell will look to replicate his performance against a much tougher opponent. Although he has not faced Australia in an official T20I, he was quite impressive in the T20 World Cup warm-up match against the Aussies, retiring not out after a 22-ball knock of 33.
That showed glimpses of what he could do with the bat, and his face-off with the Aussie pace attack consisting of the likes of Mitchell Starc promises to be an enticing affair.
James Neesham vs Marcus Stoinis
Both James Neesham and Marcus Stoinis are in-form for their respective sides, with both being involved in crucial finishing stages of the semi-finals.
While Neesham’s 11-ball cameo of 27 saw New Zealand cross the finish line over England, Stoinis had a much more impactful run with the bat against Australia, scoring an unbeaten 40.
Neesham might hold a slight edge when compared to Stoinis. He’s also had quite decent spells with the ball over the last three matches, picking a wicket in each of the games.
The Kiwi has been used in the death overs and in all likelihood, he could come up against Australia’s ‘finisher’ Marcus Stoinis around this stage of the match, thereby potentially deciding whose favour it could end up with.
Martin Guptill vs Pat Cummins
Martin Guptill vs Pat Cummins will be another marquee duel to watch out for. Cummins has troubled the opposition batters in this tournament with his varying pace and consistent lengths.
While Guptill’s only notable score so far has been that of 93 runs against Scotland, he will be pivotal for his team at the top of the order. He’s had a few 30-plus opening stands in the tournament with Mitchell, and will be looking for a good start against Australia.
The last time Australia toured New Zealand, Guptill scored 218 runs from five matches, at an average of 43.60 and a strike rate of over 159.
Cummins, who has taken five wickets in the tournament so far, will get an opportunity for an early Aussie momentum, and break the rhythm of New Zealand’s batting lineup by getting rid of the Kiwis highest run-getter in T20Is.