Reign of three lions begins

Reign of three lions begins

England celebrate winning the world cup with the trophy. Reuters

Nail-biting. Heart-stopping. Edge-of-the-seat thriller. Try as much as you can, it’s hard to capture the drama, emotion and tension of the match. In a game befitting a World Cup finale, England and New Zealand fought tooth and nail, gave it their all till the end and played out a game that will be remembered for a long time to come. It was a classic ODI game in all sense.

ICC World Cup Final ENG vs NZ: England win thrilling super over to lift the World Cup​

It was such a close-fought match that even the Super Over tie-breaker to end the deadlock too ended in a tie. With that being the case, the winners were decided based on the number of boundaries during the regular innings and in the Super Over. England, having scored 26 boundaries, pipped New Zealand (17 boundaries) to capture their maiden World Cup title, 44 years after the event began here at Lord’s.

After failing to lift the trophy in the first three finals, England finally managed to nail it in their fourth attempt in front of a capacity home crowd. Following a tie in the regular period, England scored 15 in the Super Over bowled by Trent Boult. Jofra Archer then conceded exactly 15 with Martin Guptill getting run out while attempting a second run with two needed off the last ball, setting off wild celebrations both on the field and in the stands.  

It was heartbreak for New Zealand again. They had lost to Australia in the 2015 World Cup final. In a match of fluctuating fortunes, they had several moments to seal the match, just like England, but in the end, it all boiled down to a stroke of luck.      

Irony couldn’t have come back to bite New Zealand in such a cruel manner. Four years ago, in Auckland, the South African-born Grant Elliot had helped them nix Proteas World Cup dreams with an unbeaten 84 in the semifinal, leaving then skipper AB de Villiers in tears. Four years later, the New Zealand-born Ben Stokes (84 n.o., 98b, 5x4) crushed their hopes with an innings for the ages.

Chasing New Zealand’s 241/8, England’s much-vaunted batsmen found the going tough against a Kiwi attack that kept a tight leash on the scoring while pegging away at regular intervals. Having reduced England to 86 for four, New Zealand had a chance to close out the match but Jos Buttler (59, 60b, 6x4) and Stokes put on 110 runs off 123 balls for the fourth wicket to get closer to the target. A clutch of wickets, however, brought New Zealand back in the game but Stokes stood firmly between them and a piece of history.

The left-hander didn’t quite take England across the line, but he provided them with another chance to win the title in the shape of the Super Over.

A wasted review and a blunder by an on-field umpire ruined New Zealand’s best-laid plans of posting a big total and exerting scoreboard pressure on England in a big game. It was a bold decision by Kane Williamson to opt to bat first in overcast conditions with more than a hint of grass on the pitch, and his batsmen appeared up for the challenge for a while before things turned for the worse with the dismissal of Martin Guptill.

New Zealand enjoyed their best batting phase with Williamson (30) and Nicholls stitching a 74-run stand for the second wicket before the Kiwi captain was given out after England’s review. The introduction of Liam Plunkett (3/42) clearly did the trick for England as he removed both the well-set batsmen in quick succession. Bowling with cross seam, the paceman also got rid of Nicholls who failed to clear mid-on. From a seemingly comfortable position of 103/1, New Zealand had now slipped to 118/3 with Plunkett returning a first spell of 4-0-7-2.

The lower middle-order got starts but none of them could convert it into a big half-century with only Tom Latham making a brisk 47 (56b, 2x4, 1x6). Jimmy Neesham (19) and Colin de Grandhomme (16) couldn’t really kick on as England returned to the change room with a feeling of job-well-done.