There's little to choose between the finalists, but New Zealand is a side not to be taken lightly: VVS Laxman

There’s little to choose between the finalists, but New Zealand is a side not to be taken lightly: VVS Laxman

Australia and New Zealand will face each other in the decisive clash on November 14.

VVS Laxman India
VVS Laxman. (Photo by Dibyangshu SARKAR / AFP) (Photo by DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP via Getty Images)

Former India batter VVS Laxman reckons that despite the absence of Devon Conway, New Zealand is not a team that can be counted out. Contrary to the majority of England-Pakistan T20 World Cup final expectations, Australia and New Zealand ensured to knock out the respective table-toppers to make their way into the titular clash of the mega event, which will be played on November 14.

Laxman stated that given how similar the campaigns of the two teams have been, there is very “little to choose between” them. Both Australia and New Zealand lost a game each, and won four, before reaching the knockouts, while both teams also had to survive few qualification scenarios, with South Africa being in qualification contention from Australia’s group, while India from New Zealand’s.

“There is little to choose between the two finalists, with Australia having the slight edge following the freak injury to Devon Conway. But as history will testify, New Zealand is a side that can be taken lightly at one’s own peril,” Laxman wrote in his column for The Times of India on Saturday.

Even during their respective clashes in the semi-finals, both Australia and New Zealand won the toss, looked out of the contest for a considerable part before making a comeback to win by an identical margin of five wickets.

While it was James Neesham’s quickfire cameo alongside Daryl Mitchell’s knock that helped New Zealand trump England, it was Matthew Wade’s brilliance alongside a calculated Marcus Stoinis knock that saw Australia sail over Pakistan in a tense chase.

“There was a touch of similarity to the way the two last-four clashes played out. First Kane Williamson and then Aaron Finch hit it lucky with the coin. Those were significant off-field developments, for this tournament has favoured teams chasing,” said Laxman.

“The toss, however, is only one component; it doesn’t guarantee success. In T20 cricket, it’s not even the team that plays better on the day that comes up trumps. It often boils down to a short, sharp passage of play.

“Nine times out of ten, they would have gone on to win, but on this occasion, they ran into tartar. The turning point came in the 17th over sent down by Chris Jordan, when Neesham flexed his muscles and smashed a couple of sixes. The momentum had swung the Kiwis’ way, and Mitchell stepped up to deliver the knockout blows,” he said.

“Despite David Warner’s fluency, they (Pakistan) had moved into the ascendancy after Shadab Khan’s four-wicket haul, leaving Marcus Stoinis and Matthew Wade holding the baby. The two had joined hands to steer the Aussies to a nervy win over South Africa in the opener, but the stakes were higher this time and the task stiffer. Again, they were equal to the task. There is no gain saying what might have happened had Hasan Ali not dropped Wade with 20 needed off 10.”

“That ‘life’ sparked something in the Aussie ‘keeper, who finished off the match with sixes off each of the next three deliveries. That they came against Shaheen Shah Afridi, easily the bowler of the tournament, merely reinforced the value of intent and belief in a game of extremely small margins,” he added.