So Australia it is against whom England must prevail to become Twenty20 champions of the world tomorrow. It is the fitting final to a tournament that has never been less than engaging and produced a semi-final last night which will endure in the memory forever.
Australia will take from it such sustenance that they will presume that they are invincible. The evidence for that indeed is fairly compelling. It seemed that they must lose to Pakistan in the second semi-final.
Chasing a total of 192 to win they were always behind the rate from the moment they lost their first wicket to the second ball of the innings. But somehow, needing 70 runs from the last five overs of their innings with only five wickets in hand, and 18 off the last, they made it by three wickets with a ball left.
The somehow was engineered perfectly by Michael Hussey, who once again demonstrated why he is known as "Mr Cricket". He struck an unbeaten 60 runs from 24 balls, the last 57 of them from only 17. He hit six sixes to follow the five from Cameron White who had first taken Australia's hopes from the realms of the impossible to the highly improbable. By any standards it was stunning. Australia, who never lose if they can possibly help it, were themselves scarcely able to believe the comeback.
"That's the best feeling I have ever had on a cricket field," said Hussey. "When I hit the winning runs for Australia in an Ashes Test that was some feeling but this was right up there. I was having plenty of doubts about how we were going to do it."
Pakistan perhaps lost their nerve as Hussey kept his at the crucial moment. They sensed that Australia were not about to go quietly and suddenly the composure left their play. Balls were dropped marginally short, the fielding lost its precision, Hussey pounced.
It means at least that the tournament's two outstanding teams are in the final. Australia have won all six of their matches, England have lost only in a rain reduced affair to the West Indies after they had made 191.
England won the Ashes last summer, Australia won the subsequent one-day series handsomely and when the sides met in the Champions Trophy semi-finally the manner of their victory was quite brutal.
It is also true that the pitch in Barbados will probably suit Australia. It has some pace and carry for those who can propel the ball at genuine pace and in Shaun Tait, Dirk Nannes and Mitchell Johnson, Australia have three extreme exponents.
Whatever England do, nothing will come easy. Pakistan played some thrilling cricket and the Akmal brothers, Kamran and Umar, both made joyous fifties in short order. But it was ultimately to no avail against a team who do not know when they are beaten.
Finale: 3 overs, 53 runs
14 runs off the 18th over after Smith is stumped to make it 144-7 but Johnson swipes a four and Hussey pulls his third six to reach 158-7
16 The 19th over is all Hussey with 4, 2, 2 (lb), 2, 2, 4 which makes it 174-7 with 18 needed off the last over
23 Johnson's single gives Hussey the strike and he hits 6, 6, 4, 6 to take his side through with a ball to spareReuse content