Few men in Australian cricket know the brutal and often fickle nature of fans better than Mitch Marsh - the allrounder who once famously admitted that most of the country probably "hate" him.
Following Australia's emphatic eight-wicket win over New Zealand in the T20 World Cup final, it's Marsh's praises that are being sung after one of the great redemption stories in sport.
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In easily his finest moment as an Australian cricketer, Marsh pounded an unbeaten 77 from 50 balls to help chase down the Black Caps' imposing 4-173 with seven balls to spare in Dubai.
David Warner also starred, his 53 from 38 deliveries helping him claim player of the tournament ahead of legspinner Adam Zampa.
But more importantly, a 92-run stand with Marsh for the second wicket set up the biggest chase in World Cup final history and ended a 14-year hunt for the T20 title.
Australia's success was perhaps their most unlikely of any of their white-ball World Cup wins since their first in 1987, given their horror lead-up to the tournament with five straight series losses.
But in Marsh, they found an even more unlikely hero.
Often the target of harsh criticism, he appeared out of the international frame a year ago and had played just 15 T20s between 2011 and 2020.
But he finished the World Cup with an average of 61.66 and a strike-rate above 145, making for the most prolific year of any Australian in history.
And when Australia desperately needed a batter to produce after Black Caps captain Kane Williamson's 85 from 48 balls put the game in the balance, Marsh delivered.
The 31-year-old finished the game with 10 boundaries - including four sixes - before a Glenn Maxwell (28 not out from 18) switch hit sealed the deal.
It was the sort of knock from the younger of the Marsh brothers that left cricket fans with no other choice but to eat humble pie, with praise for the Western Australian pouring in on social media for the allrounder.
Chuffed for Mitchell Marsh.
Remember this from the 2019 Ashes when @beastieboy07 asked him about how he's viewed back in Australia: "Yeah, most of Australia hate me." Probably not anymore, Mitch #T20WorldCup pic.twitter.com/REJJlI7PUL
— Vithushan Ehantharajah (@Vitu_E) November 14, 2021
M.Marsh has me in tears now after this performance.
The man gets a lot of irrational hatred and is often trolled mercilessly.
Please remember this inngs of his next time u feel like trolling him.
He has won us a WORLD CUP FINAL
MITCH MARSH,U LEGEND!
I WILL FOREVER B GRATEFUL TO U
— PRANTIK (@toyingwith_life) November 14, 2021
As a nation, we owe Mitch Marsh an apology.
— Scott Dooley (@scottdools) November 14, 2021
This is some World Cup win for the Aussies .. From the defeat to England they have been so powerful .. Mitch marsh is one of the great guys so he deserves this .. he will probably now have a big affect on the Ashes as well .. @FoxCricket #T20WorldCupFinal Well done Australia !!
— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) November 14, 2021
This is the game of cricket Mitch Marsh deserved. #ICCT20WorldCup
— Andy Maher (@AndyMaherDFA) November 14, 2021
— Pappu 🇦🇺 (@pappuschagne) November 14, 2021
"I just wanted to get out there and have a presence," Marsh said after the final.
He hit Adam Milne into the crowd at backward square first ball and followed it up with two more boundaries.
He gave the same first-ball treatment Jimmy Neesham and Mitch Santner's opening overs, taking the game to New Zealand.
"We committed to (Marsh) batting No. 3 for a long time. He knew that," Aussie skipper Aaron Finch said.
"Sometimes you just need a little bit of backing and you need some confidence from everybody else."
Josh Hazlewood led the way for Aussie bowlers
The big chase came after Josh Hazlewood had earlier been Australia's best with the ball, claiming 3-16 and sending down 14 dot balls in three powerplay overs.
But his bad drop of Williamson threatened to prove costly, when he put the New Zealand star down on 21 at fine leg.
It prompted an explosion from the Black Caps, as Williamson took 19 off that Starc over and 22 off another with the left-arm quick struggling to hit his length and finished 0-60.
Hazlewood, Pat Cummins (0-27) and Adam Zampa (1-26) were in comparison miserly, allowing Australia's batters to create history.
"It's awesome, it really is," Finch said.
"There's been so much talk about this being the one that's been elusive to Australia.
"And to be fair we've probably underperformed in the past, if we're being honest with ourselves.
"We've had some great teams along the way, this team is pretty special.
"The camaraderie, the way everyone really cares for each other and looks after each other, looks out for each other is pretty special so it's awesome."
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