It all comes down to this.
An epic T20 World Cup of unbelievable twists and turns has led to the MCG where Pakistan — which was heading home until Netherlands stunned South Africa — will meet the Matthew Mott-coached England.
While it’s not the India-Pakistan final many wanted after their epic Super 12 match, England’s fireworks in the semi-final have set the scene for an epic decider, weather pending.
The Bureau of Meteorology’s prediction was for anywhere between 8-20mm of rain on Sunday.
But as of 6pm, no rain had fallen at the MCG.
WHAT HAPPENS IF THE FINAL IS WASHED OUT? DETAILS HERE
Regardless of when it is played, the game promises to be entertaining.
Pakistan’s brilliant seam attack against Jos Buttler and Alex Hales.
Ben Stokes charging in at Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan.
CHECK OUT CODEBET’S T20 FINAL BETTING PREVIEW HERE
Whatever match-up you look at, it promises entertainment.
Follow our live coverage with every key moment below.
OVER 5: SAM CURRAN
Drama on the first ball of the over as Rizwan hurts his face/eye area while diving to complete a single. He’s being assessed by medical staff.
WICKET! RIZWAN CHOPS ON
Sam Curran gets a huge breakthrough for England, removing Rizwan for 14 off 15.
OVER 4: CHRIS WOAKES, 0-28
Mohammad Rizwan breaks the shackles on the first ball of the fourth over, dropping to one knee and sweeping Woakes for six over backward square leg.
It ends up being an expensive over after Rizwan chips Woakes over mid-on off the last ball and they scamper back for three.
OVER 3: SAM CURRAN, PAKISTAN 0-16
OVER 2: CHRIS WOAKES, PAKISTAN 0-12
OVER 1: BEN STOKES, PAKISTAN 0-8
Ben Stokes has bowled a no ball and wide to start! But the free hit thumps into Mohammad Rizwan and we finally have a fair delivery.
The other big moment came on the fourth ball when Rizwan smashed a drive straight to Chris Jordan at mid-off and took off.
A direct hit would have had him short by metres but Jordan couldn’t hit.
6.58PM UPDATE WE’RE ABOUT TO GET UNDERWAY!
Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam are ready to go. Can they reprise their semi-final heroics? We’re about to find out?
6.44PM UPDATE RAIN LATEST
The Bureau of Meteorology says there is only a 60 per cent chance of rain in Melbourne between now and 8pm and about 70 per cent chance from 8pm-11pm.
I’m no weatherman, but I can tell you the sky is gloomy but there hasn’t been a drop of rain.
It’s very muggy in Melbourne today and you wonder whether that might suit Pakistan’s quicks when they let loose under lights later.
6.30PM UPDATE KFC SUPERCOACH BBL WATCH
There will be five players featuring in the T20 World Cup final who you can select in your KFC SuperCoach BBL team. Head to supercoach.com.au to pick your side today and click here for the full watch list.
COIN TOSS: ENGLAND WIN TOSS AND WILL BOWL.
Pakistan and England are both unchanged from the semi-finals.
Mark Wood reportedly made a strong case for selection but was not 100 per cent.
ENGLAND: Jos Buttler, Alex Hales, Phil Salt, Ben Stokes, Harry Brook, Moeen Ali, Liam Livingstone, Sam Curran, Chris Woakes, Chris Jordan, Adil Rashid.
PAKISTAN: Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Haris, Shan Masood, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Wasim, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf, Nassem Shah
6.15PM UPDATE WEATHER WATCH
Pleased to report the rain has stayed away from the MCG with only 45 minutes until the first ball of the final is bowled.
6.04PM THE CRAZY STORY OF PAKISTAN’S MR BEAN
Some are calling this World Cup final the battle of Mr Bean vs Pakistan Bean.
We’ll call it the Pak Bean prophecy.
One of the most bizarre rivalries in world sport – between T20 World Cup finalist and Zimbabwe – involves a Mr Bean impersonator and an appearance at a Zimbabwean event in 2016.
Reports suggest Pakistan comedian Asif Muhammad, a doppelganger for Rowan Atkinson’s character from the famous British sitcom, featured at the Harare Agricultural Show.
Social media videos show Muhammad, dubbed ‘Pak Bean’, receiving a police escort during his visit six years ago.
He has also been pictured taking photos with fans.
Clearly, Zimbabwean sporting fans have long memories and pinpointed the T20 World Cup’s Super 12 stage as the chance to exact revenge for the fake Mr Bean.
Even Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa became involved in the sporting spat.
Zimbabwe got its retribution when it defeated Pakistan in a last-ball thriller in the Super 12s and Mnangagwa tweeted: “What a win for Zimbabwe! Congratulations to the Chevrons. Next time, send the real Mr Bean”.
This is where the story gets even more interesting.
Pakistan’s prime minister Shehbaz Sharif replied to Mnangagwa with: ‘We may not have the real Mr Bean, but we have real cricketing spirit .. and we Pakistanis have a funny habit of bouncing back. Mr President: Congratulations. Your team played really well today.’
The Pakistan team has bounced all the way back to the final, capitalising on Netherlands’ shock win over South Africa with a commanding semi-final victory over New Zealand.
For his part, Pak Bean released a statement which has been reportedly translated to: “I am a duplicate but if the Zimbabwe President and Pakistan PM can talk about me wishing each other after Zimbabwe’s win, my motive of making the world laugh is fulfilled.”
A Zimbabwean cricket fan said earlier in the T20 World Cup Pakistan would not be forgiven for the “fraud Pak Bean”.
But Pak Bean may yet have the last laugh and there are even calls for him to be allowed to present the trophy if Pakistan triumphs.
Pak Bean has become a viral sensation throughout the tournament and one website even listed him in the Pakistan batting order during the semi-final.
5.43PM UPDATE WILL ENGLAND NAME SORE DUO?
The biggest selection calls of the T20 World Cup final will be in the England camp, where Mark Wood and Dawid Malan faced a race against time to prove their fitness.
Chris Jordan and Phil Salt will make way if that pair are passed fit.
Did you know you can head to supercoach.com.au and pick Salt and Jordan in your team for the BBL for only $125k?
5.28PM UPDATE ROAD TO THE FINAL
Yes, it is true. The two finalists in this year’s T20 World Cup lost to Ireland and Zimbabwe on their way to the decider.
Pakistan incredibly dropped its opening two games in the Super 12 stage, losing on the last ball against India and Zimbabwe.
England’s campaign was on the ropes went it went down on DRS in a rain-affected game against Ireland and its match against Australia was also washed out.
But the Matthew Mott-coach English have rallied and played their best game of the tournament by steamrolling India in the semi-final.
Super 12 stage
Pakistan 8-159 lost to India 6-160 by four wickets
Pakistan 8-129 lost to Zimbabwe 8-130 by one run
Pakistan 4-95 defeated Netherlands 9-91 by six wickets
Pakistan 9-185 defeated South Africa 9-108 by 77 runs
Pakistan 5-128 defeated Bangladesh 8-127 by five wickets
Pakistan 3-153 defeated New Zealand 4-152 by seven wickets
Super 12 stage
England 5-113 defeated Afghanistan 112 by five wickets
England 5-105 lost to Ireland 1547 by five runs on DLS
England v Australia match abandoned
England 6-179 defeated New Zealand 6-159 by 20 runs
England 6-144 defeated Sri Lanka 8-141 by four wickets
England 0-170 defeated India 6-168 by 10 wickets
5.14PM UPDATE RELIVING 1992
As we wait for team news and the toss, why not reminisice about the last time these two counties played in a World Cup final at the MCG?
It was 1992 and a Pakistan team led by Imran Khan and Javed Miandad’s 139-run third-wicket partnership set England 6-249 batting first.
Neil Fairbrother (62) and Allan Lamb (31) gave the English hope and the final went down to the last over — delivered by Khan.
England was dismissed with four balls to spare and 22 runs short of its target, sparking jubilant scenes among the Pakistan crowd.
Will history repeat 30 years on?
4.55PM UPDATE FOX CRICKET EXPERTS PREDICT THE FINAL
BRETT LEE – FOX CRICKET EXPERT
My prediction even after the second semi-final where England decimated India, I’m backing Pakistan to win. I believe that Pakistan have the best fast bowling unit in the tournament with a cartel of quicks capable of going past the 150 kmph barrier they will destroy the English top order. Keep an eye on the left arm Pakistani quick Shaheen Shah Afridi to take early scalps.
ISA GUHA – FOX CRICKET EXPERT
Backing England to win. Pakistan are probably the stronger side based on form of the players. But I’m backing England to right the wrongs from their last game at the G vs Ireland. It’s going to be nip and tuck and I can’t wait.
BRENDON JULIAN – FOX CRICKET EXPERT
Pakistan to win the T20 World Cup hopefully no rain around and it is 40 over game Rizwan and Babar will continue their great form with the bat. Pakistan has a quality bowling outfit led by Afridi, Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf. If Pakistan play with freedom and are aggressive with the bat and ball then I expect them to beat England. It won’t be easy England are very disciplined and the key will be getting Butler and Hales out early. It will be the side that makes the least amount of mistakes that will win the World Cup.
MARK WAUGH – FOX CRICKET EXPERT
What a great final we have with two teams peaking for the big one. England demolished India off the back of a great opening stand between Buttler and Hales while Pakistan also cruised past NZ with Babar striking form at the right time. Very tight call but I’m tipping England to win with superior batting depth and an edge in the field.
BRIAN LARA – FOX CRICKET EXPERT
The aggression and comprehensive victories by both teams in their respective semi-finals make this encounter a mouth-watering one and a difficult one to choose the winner. Player for player Pakistan has the better team. I believe from being virtually out of the tournament and being handed a gift by South Africa, they will march home winners of the World Cup. Babar Azam now found his touch and is going to be my player of the match.
4.43PM UPDATE CRAZY SCENES AS PAKISTAN LEAVES TEAM HOTEL
Predicted heavy rain has so far dodged Melbourne in a promising sign for the T20 World Cup final.
And hundreds of Pakistan fans delayed their pilgrimage to the MCG to farewell their rivals from the team’s nearby Langham Hotel.
T20 WORLD CUP EXPERT PREDICTIONS
ROBERT CRADDOCK – NEWS CORP
Something magical is happening to Pakistan. The force is with them. I think they will do it on the back of man-of-the-match tip Babar Azam and the liberation they feel after coming back from the dead. That’s despite the fact England – incredibly – bat down to No 11.
BEN HORNE – NEWS CORP
England were the best team leading into this World Cup and despite a wobbly group stage, proved their status as No. 1 in their semi-final demolition of India. Pakistan are a great side full of momentum, and their bowling attack will provide a stern test for Alex Hales and Jos Buttler on a rapid MCG pitch. But England have extraordinary batting and bowling depth and have the resources and big match experience to rewrite the 1992 record books and win this World Cup final.
RUSSELL GOULD – NEWS CORP
One team lost to Ireland, the other to Zimbabwe in group games, and now they get to fight out the final. Both team’s batters bludgeoned their opposition in the semi-finals, but the way the England opening duo went about their work gives them the edge to collect the trophy with Jos Buttler to win player of the match.
DANIEL CHERNY – CODE SPORTS
England will frank years of white-ball innovation and fearlessness with their second T20 world title to become the first side to hold the T20 and ODI crowns simultaneously. Jos Buttler’s side showed its top gear on Thursday night at Adelaide Oval and come a World Cup final I’m backing Ben Stokes to find his big-match self and claim player of the match honours. That is of course all on the proviso we get cricket at all given La Nina’s grip on this event.
ENGLAND SUCCESS SETS BLUEPRINT FOR AUSSIE FUTURE
England’s Jos Buttler may have given Australia the lead on their cricketing future by claiming it was “near impossible” for one coach to handle all formats.
Just six months after Cricket Australia rejected a chance to instil separate red ball and white ball coaches in the wake of Justin Langer’s resignation, Buttler expects more and more countries will be forced to start following England’s example due to the unrelenting demands of the job.
Champion Australian women’s coach Matthew Mott applied for the Aussie men’s job earlier this year, only to be beaten by Andrew McDonald.
But a proven wizard at lifting teams to World Cup finals, Mott is now riding high in the saddle as England’s white ball coach in a move Buttler believes has set his side up for a new era of English dominance.
McDonald has been appointed coach of Australia across all formats for the next four years, but Buttler has expressed doubts about the sustainability of that model in world cricket.
“The nature of the schedule of English cricket makes it near enough impossible for one man to do the whole job. We play so much cricket and there’s so much travelling and time away, it has become untenable to have one coach,” said Buttler on the eve of Sunday’s World Cup final against Pakistan at the MCG.
“It’s something other teams may look at.
“It seems to be working well so far for English cricket and hopefully that will obviously continue.
“Even when one person was in charge, you’re seeing them having to miss certain series or one of the assistants taking over for a little bit, but for the stability of the group it’s a real plus that we know exactly who our staff are.”
It’s fascinating that it’s the Australian trio of Mott, Mike Hussey and David Saker that have helped guide England to the World Cup final, and it remains an ongoing challenge for Cricket Australia to stop the brain drain of the country’s top coaches accepting more money to coach overseas rather than stay involved with the national team or domestic teams.
Buttler revealed that England is still leaving the door ajar for injured duo Mark Wood and Dawid Malan to return for the World Cup final, with a decision to be left until the last moment.
England were humbled by Ireland in a rain affected match at the MCG during the group stages, and Buttler has called on his troops to learn from the mistakes of letting the weather become a distraction.
Melbourne’s forecast is bleak for Sunday’s final, but Buttler doesn’t want players exhausting mental energy on something they can’t control.
“Obviously the Ireland match was a big disappointment for us as a team during this tournament. It feels a long time ago now. Being able to sit in this position, now we will have to learn a lot of lessons from that game and the lead-up to that game,” said Buttler.
“The weather around in Melbourne that week was dominating the whole tournament at the time and it was a distraction at times. We know the areas we were short and that definitely hurt us, and I think we’ve seen a reaction to that game in the rest of the cricket we’ve played.”
Malan and Wood may still run out of time to prove their fitness, with Phil Salt and Chris Jordan to keep their places from the semi-final win over India if medicos err on the side of caution.
“They’re both improving. Of course, there’s not too many days since not being fit enough for the semi-final, but again we’ll give them every chance possible,” said Buttler.
Pakistan captain Babar Azam thought his team was headed for the departure lounge until the Netherlands shock upset of South Africa brought them back from the dead to qualify for the semi-finals.
Now he wants to replicate the history-making efforts of Imran Khan in the 1992 ODI World Cup final at the MCG against England, and lead Pakistan to glory 30 years on.
“Of course, there are similarities. But we’ll try and win the trophy. It’s an honour for me to lead this team and especially on this big ground,” said Babar.
“We’ll try and give our 100 per cent in tomorrow’s match and let’s see.”
Originally published as T20 World Cup final: Team news, weather, start time, expert predictions for Pakistan v England