Runner up 1979, 1987 and 1992 . Now Champion in 2019. England finally wins the World cup after a high pitch drama at Lords in a match for the ages.
It was the game of millimetres, the game of truth, the game of the title, the game of the century and it did not have a winner after a guerrilling 100 overs and a sensational superover. England won the world cup over New Zealand by hitting more number of boundaries in the final , well that was the parameter decided in the tournament rules in the event of even after a superover tie and ironically it had to be employed in a match which probably deserves joint winners.
England lost the toss and were asked to bowl in cloudy conditions in the Lords final after morning rain. The opening fast bowlers were superb at the start ,moving the ball around and making scoring and survival challenging. After early loss of Guptill , Williamson and Nicholls were involved in a long 74 run partnership but they could never get away from the dominating English bowling as both Williamson (30)and Nicholls (55) was not allowed to consolidate after their long partnership. Consistency in bowling by Woakes (3/37), Plunkett(3-42), Archer(1-42) restricted the Blackcaps innings in admirable fashion by taking regular wickets as only Tom Latham(47) managed to push the Kiwis to a competitive but a below par score of 241in 50 overs.
The ball continued to swing in the 2nd innings as England batting were rattled by some impressive seam and swing bowling by New Zealand. Aggressive openers Roy(17 off 20) and Bairstow(36 off 55) were never allowed to get away to their customary blazing starts and both Root (7) and Morgan (9) struggled to dominate and lost their composure to leave England staring at grim possibilities at 86/4 around 23 overs. However it was the Stokes-Buttler combination which admirably pushed England on towards the winning target against some highly disciplined New Zealand bowling attack who put up a similar nagging performance against India in the semifinal win. Buttler’s (59 off 60) dismissal after their superb 110 run stand allowed Stokes the licence to take up the challenge and get England over the line but continued rattle of wickets at the other end got blackcaps back in the reckoning. The equation for New Zealand become almost similar to India game – around 25 off last two overs. Jimmy Neesham bowled a terrific 49th over getting wickets of Plunkett and Archer and choking England for runs but Ben Stokes found a way to keep strike in the last over bowled by Boult who had earlier caught Stokes on the boundary only to trample over the boundary ropes and thereby missed the catch to seal the match. Ben Stokes was fast enough to extract a two with last man Mark Wood, then hit a brilliant 6 followed by another two when the unthinkable happened as the throw from the deep rebounded off Stokes desperately lunging bat as he was completing the 2nd run and it went behind the keeper for 4 extra runs stunning the blackcaps. With 2 required off last ball just 1 came as Wood was runout and the match tied and superover had to be employed with the Lords stadium and whole of England trembling in excitement .Will it be another case of so near yet so far for the English?
England batted first in superover with the tried and trusted pair for the match..Stokes and Buttler.A mad scramble for runs got England 15 in the over bowled by Boult. Then who would have thought the script was to be written for Jofra Archer to take England through , fast tracked to play for England and included in the final World cup squad, days before the start of the event. Jimmy Neesham’s 6 got the superover target close but Guptill needing 2 to win from last ball got a single to tie the superover scores but enabled England to get their first ever World cup on higher boundary count in the regulation match !! It was needed , a cricket match for the ages.
Though the man of the tournament went to Kane Williamson for his 578 runs at 80 plus average , ahead of Rohit Sharma (648 runs with 5 tons) and Shakib (606 runs and 11 wkts), Ben Stokes too came close not only for his 465 runs at 66 average and 7 wickets but also for the impact he had right through in England’s World cup win and obviously there was no other better candidate for Player of thr natch which he duly got for his 84 notout and more impact in superover . His personal issues in 2017-18 after his brawl in a pub is a distant past now.
England were the best ODI side in the last 2 years and had gone through a massive culture and approach change since their last world cup debacle in 2015 .They embraced power hitting in their batting set up and managed to get the right resource. Their brutally powerful batting order of Roy, Bairstow, Root, Morgan,Stokes and Buttler have massacred the best of bowling attacks to put unreal scores on the board. In the World cup they had a brief period of uncertainty with 2 defeats to Srilanka and Australia when Roy got injured but came back strongly and won their last 2 must win games to reach the semis where they routed Australia to reach their 4th finals. The batting was always brilliant and could overall any targets and the bowling though had its limitations initially ,finally stood up the test well with Archer, Woakes and Wood particularly impressive and Plunkett producing the goods in the final with 3/42. The Blackcaps must be gutted after losing such an excruciatingly close match but probably England deserved it after beating all the top 3 title aspirants , India, Australia and New Zealand on their way to glory . So big congratulations to Eoin Margan and his men !!!
The nation which taught the rest of the World, the game of cricket in 18th and 19th century are finally the World champions . The cup has indeed come home.