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ICC T20 World Cup 2021: Should Australia include Ashton Agar in playing XI at the expense of Josh Hazlewood in the final against New Zealand?

Should Ashton Agar feature in the playing XI for Australia against the Blackcaps in the final?
Should Ashton Agar feature in the playing XI for Australia against the Blackcaps in the final?
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Niranjan Deodhar

Trans-Tasman rivals Australia and New Zealand are all set to lock horns in the final of the ICC T20 World Cup 2021 in Dubai on Sunday (November 14). New Zealand have always been the dark horses at ICC tournaments. They have lived up to that tag at this year’s marquee event as they eye their maiden ICC T20 World Cup title on Sunday.

Michael Clarke’s Australian team were runner-ups in the 2010 edition of the T20 World Cup. They losy by 7 wickets against Paul Collingwood’s England in the final. Australia should be hoping to change that fate this time around and claim their first T20 World Cup trophy at this year’s final against the Kiwis.

New Zealand’s Devon Conway suffered a freak injury to his right hand. It came after he punched his bat in frustration following his dismissal in the semi-final against England. The injury has ruled him out of the blockbuster final against Australia. Right-handed wicketkeeper batsman Tim Seifert is expected to replace him in the Blackcaps batting line-up in the final.

Seifert’s inclusion in the side means that New Zealand's batting line-up will now comprise of six right-handers in the top 7. The only exception being semifinal's match-winner James Neesham, who bats left-handed.

Aaron Finch and Australian team management can now contemplate including left-arm spinner Ashton Agar in their side for the final. A left-arm spinner could be fatal to right-handers, making Agar a better choice than Josh Hazlewood.

Australia have persisted with three quicks, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and spinner Adam Zampa in their bowling line-up throughout the event. Their Super 12 encounter against England was the only exception when Australia chose to field five bowlers with Agar featuring in the playing XI as well.

What does Ashton Agar bring to the Australian team?

Left-arm off-spinner Agar against New Zealand’s right-handers can be a great matchup for Australia. Agar, who turns the ball slightly away from the right-hander, can target both the edges of the bat. He can mix his off spin with the deliveries that skid straight on to the bat.

Agar chipped in with a valuable contribution with the bat as well against England
Agar chipped in with a valuable contribution with the bat as well against England

Agar was impressive with the ball against England, returning with figures of 1-15 off his 2.4 overs. His ability to bat will only add an all-round value to the Australian team. When the chips were down against England in their Super 12 encounter, Agar’s knock of 20 runs off 20 balls down the order was worth its weight in gold. He ably supported his captain Finch, who was batting at the other end.

While Hazlewood is a much-improved T20 bowler now in comparison to a couple of years back, he was lackluster in the semifinal against Pakistan. He was clobbered for 49 runs off his four overs against Babar Azam’s side. Considering New Zealand’s batting line-up loaded with right-handers, Australia might replace Hazlewood with Agar in the showpiece final.

With all-rounders Mitchell Marsh and Marcus Stoinis in their ranks, Australia still possess plenty of fast bowling options even without Hazlewood.

Ashton Agar can not only bowl in the power play but also can play a crucial role in squeezing New Zealand’s batting line-up in the middle overs alongside Zampa.


Edited by Diptanil Roy
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