In the end, Australia finished their Indoor Cricket World Cup campaign exactly how they started it – as world champions.
The Aussies made the 14-hour flight to Dubai as the team everyone had to beat, having won every single edition of the tournament since its inception.
Before a ball was even bowled at InSportz Club, the men’s side clinched nine titles since 1995, while their female counterparts tasted global success eight straight times when the competition was launched in 1998.
Their youths are also on the same page with their Under-21s triumphing in all five finals in both the male and female’s categories.
So, having dominated the indoor format, it was no surprise to see them to take a clean sweep in all four categories yesterday.
In the women’s showdown, Australia proved to be too strong for South Africa, who were featuring in their sixth final.
Having scored 121 inspired by high scores of 22 from Krystal Oppermann and Briony Polkinghorne, the defending champs were even better with the bowling.
After getting two run-outs in the first two balls, South Africa never really recovered as they fell way short of their target with 52. Oppermann, Laura Shaw and Nicole Martin took three wickets each.
— Denzil M Pinto (@denz_360) September 23, 2017
For triumphant skipper Jude Coleman, it was her seventh World Cup success.
“It makes me feel old,” joked Coleman, 36. “They are all different and all special. Every one is with a new group of players and this one we had a lot of new players, to share that with them is always special and to win it is even better.”
It wasn’t long before the Australians were celebrating again as the men’s counterparts followed suit.
Facing old foes New Zealand, whose side included former international Jesse Ryder, they got a first hand view of the Haka for the first time in Dubai.
Yet, that didn’t distract their focus. With strong support, with the rest of the triumphant Australian sides watching in the crowd, the men did not disappoint by scoring 94 runs in their 16 overs.
Jay Otto led the way with 20 runs, while Matthew Floros hit 15.
New Zealand’s innings did not get off to the best start after finding themselves at -8 early in the first skin. But despite showing signs of improvement, Australia were too dominant with Luke Ryan finishing with three wickets as New Zealand registered 48.
It was the 10th world title for the men’s side and while skipper Lyle Teske acknowledges their run will one day come to an end, he wants the team to remain dominant.
“It’s inevitable isn’t it,” he said. “We’re going to have to lose one eventually and I’ve never seen a sporting team with this record ever. We’ll keep going and doing enough and that’s what we’ve been doing for the last few years.
“They are all good sweet victories. New Zealand are a tough opposition and if you don’t turn up on the day, they’ll come and topple you on the day.”
The men’s triumph completed a memorable day for the Aussies after their Under-21 sides retained their titles with victories over New Zealand. Their men’s side won 68-66, while their women’s side came out on top, winning 92-54.
South Africa women’s side delivered a performance when it really mattered to stun 2014 runners-up New Zealand and set up an Indoor Cricket World Cup final with defending champions Australia.
The teams were meeting for the third time this week after New Zealand came out on top on both occasions with 70-66 and 64-57 victories.
But South Africa timed their revenge to such perfection with Nadine Moodley’s 23 and Megan Seale’s three wickets sealing a 80-74 triumph in the Preliminary Final at Dubai’s InSportz Club.
With the competition following the IPL knockout format, the South Africans were celebrating success for the second time yesterday after eliminating England in their semi-final. For New Zealand, they were unable to take advantage of their second opportunity to make the showpiece final after losing to Australia 97-56 in their Eliminator.
It will be the sixth time that South Africa have reached the final and will have to do something they have never done before on this stage and that’s to beat the Australians, who have won each of the eight editions.
“It’s a sigh of relief and the batting finally came through for us so to describe how we’re feeling right now is simply impossible,” said South Africa skipper Hayleigh Wheeler.
“The final is a big challenge ahead,” she said. “We will get a good rest tonight and bring out A game and hope we can pull it off. Australia are the defending champions and no one can dispute that. Their batting and bowling is exceptional and bowling and we’ll do what we can.”
— Denzil M Pinto (@denz_360) September 22, 2017
In the men’s competition, Jesse Ryder’s shot of winning the Indoor World Cup is still alive although they will have to overcome Australia today, who are searching for their 10th consecutive title.
The Australians will be buoyed they have beaten their rivals twice this week including yesterday’s 73-19 victory in the semi-final. But New Zealand, six-time runners-up, can gain revenge after beating South Africa 82-72. Keiran Butler top-scored with 16 runs, while also taking one wicket for the Kiwis.
For triumphant captain Victor Davies, he was delighted to get through the two tests but feels all the pressure will be on the defending champions today.
“Happy with the result and got a lot of work to do for the game,” said the 27-year-old. “We got one chance to become world champions and we’ll try to tick all the boxes and stick to our plans.
“Without a doubt, the final is a big one. But it’s theirs to lose. We have got nothing to lose. We have come all the way to win the World Cup and we will do everything we can to bring that home.”
Meanwhile in the men’s event, England set up a Plate final with India after beating hosts UAE 118-40. Earlier, in the Preliminary, India booked their place in the final after beating UAE 73-57.
England ODI and T20 skipper Eoin Morgan is set to be the latest star that UAE cricket fans can look forward to watching in this year’s Ten Cricket League (TCL).
Morgan, 31, who has scored more than 8,000 international runs in 273 matches, will put pen to paper on a deal once the competition is approved by the ICC. TCL president Shaji Ul-Mulk told Sport360° that he expects the league to be given the green light in the next three to four days.
It would mean that Morgan will join a stellar field in the inaugural 10-over competition. The event, which will be sanctioned by Emirates Cricket Board, will see the likes of Chris Gayle, Shahid Afridi, Virender Sehwag and Kumar Sangakkara in action over 90 minutes at Sharjah Cricket Stadium. It will be held from December 21 to 24.
“Eoin is one of the superstars in T20 cricket and he’s the England skipper in T20s and ODIs, and we’re really honoured to have him on board,” said Ul-Mulk, who confirmed the league launch will be held on October 3.
The batsman could also be joined by some of his international team-mates with Ul-Mulk revealing they have made contact with England cricketers.
“We have spoken to Jason Roy and Alex Hales and they’re just waiting for the formal approval from the ICC,” he said. “England are set to play in the Ashes series at the end of the year so their Test players won’t be available.”
Although the list is not finalised, Ul-Mulk said the league will feature around 70 top internationals from around the world including Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Former Pakistan skipper Inzamam Ul Haq will also attend as the league’s mentor.
The event also has the support of the Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi cricketing bodies. Those nations will send one team each – Bangla Tigers and Colombo Lions in the six-team league and Ul-Mulk believes that is further evidence that TCL will be a big hit.
“It’s wonderful,” he said. “The fact that the Bangladesh and Sri Lankan Cricket Boards are sending their own teams are beyond our original expectations of how strong the league will be.”