Morne Morkel has backed New Zealand to handle the pressure of another ICC tournament final, as they take on Australia in the T20 World Cup 2021 title clash in Dubai on Sunday. Morkel lauded newcomers Daryl Mitchell and Devon Conway, who’d set up the team’s semifinal win against England on Wednesday.
New Zealand have been quite a force across formats in recent years, currently occupying the pole position in Test and ODI rankings, while being placed fourth in T20Is. The T20 World Cup 2021 final on Sunday, will be their third ICC tournament final appearance in as many years, after they’d finished runners-up at the 2019 World Cup, before winning the World Test Championship in June.
“While the spotlight was on India, Pakistan, England and Australia throughout the tournament there was a little voice inside my head saying: ‘hang on don’t forget about New Zealand’,” Morkel wrote in his ICC column.
“They are the current World Test champions, played in the last 50-over World Cup final and their white-ball cricket has been exceptional over the past couple of years.
“They are street smart and organised and have an inspirational leader in Kane Williamson.”
Morkel further stated that the team will be unfazed by their opponents on Sunday, a trait they’ve already shown in the semi-final against England.
“New Zealand won’t mind who they are playing in the final,” Morkel wrote. “They’ve already overcome a huge hurdle and got one over England which shows they can handle the heat when it’s on them.
“In a final, it’s about doing the basics as well as possible. That group is really focused on the fundamentals, but also have the ability to flick the switch to fifth gear and blow teams out of the water.
“Their focus will be on getting themselves ready and controlling what they can control.”
Morkel was highly impressed with Daryl Mitchell (72* off 47) and Devon Conway (46 off 38), as the pair scripted a turnaround after Martin Guptill and Williamson were dismissed early in the 167-run chase on Wednesday.
“Chasing in a semifinal, you want your big guns to fire but when the Black Caps lost Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson, the hopes of a nation were on the shoulders of World Cup newcomers Daryl Mitchell and Devon Conway,” he wrote.
“On the big stage, this was their opportunity to make a name for themselves in white-ball cricket, and they knew exactly the game they needed to play, blocking out the noise and playing every ball on its merit.”
“That’s the important thing about T20, if one solid partnership can take the game as deep as possible and you have big hitters at the back end, anything is possible.”