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Australia hunt elusive T20 World Cup

Test dominance and ruthlessness in one-day cricket has never been an issue for Australia, but on Monday (1am AEDT) they go in search of an elusive cricketing treasure.

Facing New Zealand in Dubai in the Twenty20 World Cup gives Australia a chance to finally claim the title they have never won and rewrite a record that makes for ugly reading.

“It’s something we talked about before the series began,” coach Justin Langer said.

“We’ve got such a rich (cricket) history and it would be nice to add this piece to the puzzle.”

Coming into this tournament Australia had only reached the World Cup final once, going down to England in 2010.

They had failed to get past the group stage in their last two appearances and their form since the initial coronavirus outbreak in 2020 was less than impressive.

Australia had won just six of their last 21 T20 internationals, losing five straight series and slumping to seventh in the world rankings.

After sneaking into the last four ahead of South Africa on net run rate, Australia can potentially bring the trophy home for the first time since its inception in 2007.

The reason for a lack of success in the game’s shortest format is mixed, but one which is at odds with their haul of a record five ODI World Cup titles.

As the rest of the world placed value and reacted tactically to the helter-skelter nature of T20 cricket, Australia seemed slow on the uptake.

“The way you have to think about the (T20) game is definitely more than what we first thought it was going to be when it came onto the scene,” said Marcus Stoinis, who combined with Matthew Wade in devastating fashion to seal the semi-final victory over Pakistan.

“Test cricket and the Ashes, that’s what we grew up wanting to play. But the transformation of T20 cricket – it’s not hit-and-giggle anymore.

“The pressure is on in every game, especially come this time of tournaments.”

Dealing with that pressure has never been an issue when it came to runs.

But there was a tendency to keep the first-choice bowling attack on ice with Test match cricket viewed as a priority.

That changed this tournament with Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood all deployed together in the same T20 international for the first time.

“We’ve really backed the fact that we’ve got three high-quality quicks who can bowl at any stage during the innings,” said Glenn Maxwell ahead of the semi-final win over Pakistan.

“A lot of other teams probably use a bit more spin in the powerplay and through the middle, whereas we back our quicks.

“That’s the way we’ve been going about our strategy with the ball.”

Maxwell has been restricted to cameos with the ball, with Adam Zampa used as the dominant spin option alongside the pace threat of Starc, Cummins and Hazlewood.

It’s an approach which has paid dividends with the leggie claiming 12 wickets – the most of any Australian spinner at the T20 World Cup – at a strike rate of 10.91.

After a less than convincing start to the tournament, which included a heavy defeat at the hands of England, Australia have improved game on game.

While Zampa has wrecked havoc with the ball, David Warner and Aaron Finch have shaken off recent form slumps to have Australia on the cusp of history.

“For the Australian team, I don’t think many people gave us a chance leading into this tournament, apart from maybe the players and the coaching staff,” Stoinis added.

“It’s definitely going to mean a bloody lot for us and we’ll be super proud when we bring that (trophy) home to Australia.”

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