Cricket history cannot recall a final as close as this. The cliche “Cricket is the true winner” is not a cliche for today, it really is the biggest winner. England struggled, fumbled, but eventually, when they had to cling on to their nerves, they did it and it took a nerve-wracking finale, without debates the greatest finale of all time to crown them as the champions.
New Zealand won the toss earlier and decided to bat first. They were the only side apart from Afghanistan this tournament to not register a 300+ total even once and clearly, they didn’t want anything above 300 on an important day. Martin Guptill got off to a positive start and looked like overturning his fortunes with a stellar knock, but was trapped in front of the stumps with a beauty and he even wasted a review for the Kiwis before walking back.
Kane Williamson stitched a good partnership with Henry Nicholls and the duo batted very sensibly against some outstanding bowling. Nicholls completed his first fifty of the tournament when it mattered the most and the duo added 74 runs for the second wicket. But Williamson’s outstanding run in the tournament ended with a bit of DRS assistance as Liam Plunkett struck a big blow.
It didn’t take long for Plunkett to provide another important wicket, this time disturbing Nicholls’ timber. Ross Taylor was wrongly given out LBW and unfortunately for the Kiwis, they didn’t have reviews to challenge it. Jimmy Neesham too started on a positive note but his stay was way too short to impact the game.
Tom Latham finally got some runs and he got some very important runs on the big day. His 56-ball 47 eventually played a crucial role in helping the Kiwis score 241 runs for the loss of eight wickets. Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes were outstanding in the death, which denied the Blackcaps a score in excess of 241.
Kiwi bowlers give the side a blazing start
Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow were facing some dazzling music in the first few overs and it wasn’t getting easy for them to bat. They did get a couple of boundaries to get them going, but Roy eventually bowed to the brilliance of Matt Henry. Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow played very cautiously, which was a little uncharacteristic but it was also important to bat out that crucial phase.
Root was beginning to lose his composure and he went for a wild swing off Colin de Grandhomme, which got the edge and went straight to the keeper. Bairstow chopped a short delivery on to the stumps and bottled a very good start. Skipper Eoin Morgan and Ben Stokes batted for a while but a brilliant catch at deep point from Lockie Ferguson dismissed the Morgan, pushing England in deep trouble.
A big partnership was needed from here as next up was Chris Woakes, who is more of a bowling all-rounder. With Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes determined to take the side home, they played some very sensible cricket. Buttler, under immense pressure, delivered a sensational knock under crisis which was very important in that juncture. Buttler and Stokes completed their fifties and added 110 runs for the fifth wicket.
Buttler was dismissed at a very crucial period, leaving a whole lot of responsibility on Ben Stokes. Liam Plunkett hit a crucial boundary in the 47th over and Stokes backed it with a brilliant flick under pressure in the next. With 15 to get in the final over, courtesy a six and a controversial overthrow, the game went into the super over.
A boundary a piece from Buttler and Ben Stokes, coupled by some quick runs helped England accumulate 15 runs in their one over. Jofra Archer bowled a wide and gave a six in the first two legal deliveries, but with two runs to win, there was a runout during the attempt for the second run. Courtesy the most boundaries during the course of the 51 overs, England became the first country to win the Football, Hockey, Rugby and finally, a Cricket World Cup.
New Zealand: 241/8 in 50 overs (Henry Nicholls 55, Tom Latham 47; Chris Woakes 3/37, Liam Plunkett 3/42)
England: 241 all out in 50 overs (Jos Buttler 59, Ben Stokes 84*; James Neesham 3/43, Lockie Ferguson 3/50)
Result: England won in the super over
Man of the Match: Ben Stokes
Player of the Tournament: Kane Williamson
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