Lords of the game win it at Lord’s
When was the last time have you seen an ODI match where you cannot set two teams apart on most runs scored after 100 scheduled overs and 2 super overs? When was the last time have you seen English gentlemen, dressed in suits and ties in a cricket ground, jumping up and down in joy and crying out of emotion? The answer for both questions are same, ‘Never’!
Never ever in the history of international cricket, viewers witnessed a winner is declared based on the number of boundaries scored. And if it is the world cup final, the greatest show of the game that comes once in four years, the thrill is beyond imagination.
If Cricket World Cup was a Hollywood movie and one had to write a script for the final climax, this would be it! And trust me, you cannot write a script as good as this. The final match had everything to make it worth to remember for decades to come. Two ties in one match, brilliant catches, superb run outs, a six that was almost a catch, a deflected four off the batsman’s bat, and a nail-biting heart throbbing last forty-five minutes. The story of this final will be repeated again and again as long as this glorious game will be played in this planet.
The final was like a boxing match from the minute it started. Both teams were reluctant to give an inch. There was no knock-out attempts or glory hunting but short jabs, ducks and punches. New Zealand, choosing to bat first in a tricky pitch, wanted to reserve their wickets and concentrated on rotating ends. England swung the new ball than pulled their lengths a bit shorter to dry up the scorecard. This worked for the home team as all the kiwi top order batsmen got set and got out just when they could accelerate. New Zealand accumulated 241 runs, 2 more than they defended against India, on the back of Henry Nicholls’s fifty. Tom Latham made a valuable 47 along with the captain Kane Williamson who scored 30.
Although New Zealand was good twenty runs short considering the pitch, a recent history of New Zealand defending low totals and England’s nervous chases, added pressure of a World Cup final, the match was far from over at innings break.
At the start of the second innings, the kiwi opening bowlers matched their English counterparts and made life tougher for the batsmen. Once Roy got out for 17, England batsmen panicked and went into shell. Their two main bat Root and Morgan struggled and got out for single digit scores. Bairstow somehow managed to hold one end and scored probably his most gritty 36. Then came the man of the final, Ben stokes, ironically a kiwi, to the rescue. He came in to the crease and showed the intent which was lacking in earlier part of England’s innings. He paired up with the keeper Joss Buttler and brought the target within the grasp.
But the cricket gods had lot in store for the final hour. Once Buttler got dismissed, wickets kept falling in one end. With 24 remaining in last 2 overs it was now or never for England. Jimmy Nisham, the hero of the semifinal, came to bowl the penultimate over. He removed Liam Plunkett, Jofra Archer and almost had Stokes caught for Trent Boult to touch the boundary cushion after grasping the catch at long on.
England had more luck going their way when they got bonus four runs from an overthrow deflecting from Stoke’s bat. And he then failed to score 3 runs from next 2 deliveries which means the match was to the super over!
Once it went to super over England was always favorite because of two reasons. First one was that they had better hitters to win a one over shootout. The second advantage was down to a bizarre rule; they had hit more boundaries than New Zealand which meant they would be the champions if the scores are tied after the super overs. And when Stokes’ throw from the deep square leg beat Guptil’s dive it was the only deciding factor that distant the two finalists.
The final was a fitting end to an eventful World Cup. Variety of pitches, huge scores blended with thrilling low chases, scintillating hundreds and grueling pace bowling spells, rain dramas, it offered a lot of entertainment for the viewers all over the world. And while England takes the champion’s cup, New Zealand can hold their head high. End of the day it is Cricket that is the winner.
Author of this article, Saadat Ullah Kawser, a Hertfordshire graduate and a nine to five regular office worker, is so passionate about cricket that he can talk cricket to his pet for hours.