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T20 World Cup in Australia was dominated by bowling, unpredictable weather and unexpected results

England won their second T20 World title after they defeated Pakistan by five wickets in a tense final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground — and became the first men’s team in history to hold both the 50-over and T20 World titles at the same time.

The story of the final was in many ways the story of the tournament: A match dominated by bowlers, contributing to a tense, low-scoring affair that was as much a battle of attrition as it was of free-flowing batsmanship.

“The wickets have been a bit spicy,” said Pakistan’s Shan Masood as he spoke to the press after the game. “We saw that (in the final) as well.

“In these conditions, you realize how important it is to put your ego aside, consolidate, build platforms and finish well.

“It’s probably a bit of old-style cricket, with the bigger boundaries and the quality of the bowling, batsmen were certainly humbled and a lot of people had to change their games.”

The conditions have contributed to a fantastically entertaining tournament. At one point, the poor weather in Melbourne had threatened to derail the competition, but aside from a handful of washouts, the damp conditions only served to contribute further to bowler-friendly conditions that gave the event a distinctive feel and led to many upsets taking place.

“It’s certainly made people adapt,” summarised England’s captain Jos Buttler, who took over the role from Eoin Morgan earlier this year. “(It’s) made the batters have to think differently. Bowlers have been able to attack; at certain times the ball has swung throughout the tournament, which has added a different dimension.

“That will be one of the sort of themes throughout the tournament, and like you say, you play in different parts of the world and different challenges are faced. That’s why as an international team we have to be able to adapt really well to be successful.”

One of the upsets that took place was eventual champions England’s defeat to Ireland in the Super 12s stage of the competition, a result that effectively meant England had to go unbeaten for the remainder of the tournament to win their first World T20 title since 2010. It was something they managed in style as they strung together victories against New Zealand and Sri Lanka in their final two group stage games, before defeating India and then Pakistan in the semifinal and final.

But their defeat to Ireland was far from the only upset to take place over the course of the four-week competition. Runners-up Pakistan lost to Zimbabwe, South Africa fell to a crucial defeat at the hands of the Netherlands in a result that cost them a place in the semifinals, and Sri Lanka, who won the Asia Cup just two months ago, lost to Namibia in the first-round of the competition. The move to a 20-team World Cup in 2024, up from 16 teams in this year’s edition, will be a welcome change as cricket seeks to expand the global game.

“We’re still a bit away from these top teams,” said Ireland’s captain Andy Balbirnie at the close of their competition. “We need to keep improving and playing regular cricket against them so we can improve and expand our squad as much as we can.”

England’s Sam Curran was named as the ICC Player of the Tournament after a fantastic competition during which he took a total of 13 wickets at an average of 11.37 and with an economy of 6.52. In a bizarre quirk, Curran was not in the ICC’s team of the tournament that is named before the final. But a man-of-the-match performance on the biggest stage, where he took 3-12 from his four overs, was enough for him to scoop the player-of-the-series award.

“Sam Curran has stepped up and been an absolute revelation,” Buttler said of his left-arm bowler. Earlier this year, Curran had been out for a lengthy period with a stress fracture in his back before forcing his way back into England’s XI.

“He’s a brilliant cricketer. He loves those crunch moments. He’s deserved Player of the Tournament for this, and we’re so proud to have him in our team.

“He’s only going to get better as well. He’s still a young man but he’s got a lot of experience already on those shoulders. He’s a man you turn to to tell him he’s on, and he’s already saying, yeah, I want to bowl. So pleased for him and he’s got everything he deserves.”

As much as a result can ever be “the correct” one, this England victory cements a legacy for a team that has revolutionized the way the white-ball game is played in the sport. After a disastrous 2015 World Cup campaign sparked change within the set-up, they have reached the final of the T20 World Cup in 2016, won the fifty-over competition in 2019, lost in the semifinal of the T20 World Cup in 2021 before taking victory yesterday. It has been an era of dominance defined by fearless, high-risk, high-reward cricket.

“The perception of our team has changed a lot over the last few years,” said Buttler. “We’ve certainly not played it safe, and we’ve had results doing that. We know we’ve always tried to push the boundaries, tried to get ahead of the rest of the world and be braver than anyone else.”

And in his first year as T20 captain, England’s Jos Buttler has a World Cup to show for it.

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