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The clock could go faster for both the finalists


On the eve of the final of 2019 cricket World Cup, history beckons for both the teams that are still in the title race. If we look back at the events of the last few weeks, England and New Zealand, two contrasting teams, have had a similar outing.

Both captains Kane Williamson and Eoin Morgan pose just before the World Cup final
Both captains Kane Williamson and Eoin Morgan pose with the trophy just before the World Cup final

England is a team full of free flowing power hitters, on the other hand New Zealand is a team who take calculative approach in their batting to complement their potent bowling attack backed by professional fielding performances. Both the teams started their campaign with a thumping win.

 

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England moved past South Africa easily in the opening fixture of the tournament and New Zealand blown Sri Lanka away. Both the teams stumbled in their second match. England losing to Pakistan where as New Zealand got away with a narrow win against Bangladesh. They were the last two teams to confirm the semi-final berth and had to wait till the last couple of days of the tournament.

The fearless brand of cricket England have been playing in this tournament is not a surprise. The story goes back to 2015 World cup. A disastrous World Cup campaign for England where they lost to Bangladesh and couldn’t go past the group stage. It prompted a overwhelming change in the way England play the shorter formats. They got rid of a lot of seniors and build their ODI team around a bunch of young attacking batsmen. They have been playing this way for quite some time now and the main man behind this change is no other than the captain Eoin Morgan.

Mr. Morgan had to take a lot of flakes in the early days of his captaincy tenure. One of them was that he stays mute during the national anthem. Left neutrals wondering what is more bizarre, an Irishman captaining the England national cricket team or an Irishmen singing ‘God save the queen…..’

Making Eoin Morgan, an Irishman, captain of the England team was a brave decision given the history of the two nations, and ‘brave’ is a perfect word to describe the way this England team approach the game. On their fifth world cup final it will be fitting if they win the cup for the first time in front of their home crowd.

New Zealand, England’s opponent for tomorrow’s final, is less flamboyant than their counterparts. They somehow found a way to sneak into the semi-final as always. They showed some good bowling performances, brilliance in the fielding department and bat around arguably the best Kiwi batsman ever, Kane Williamson to collect important wins.

They also had some luck going their way throughout the tournament. In their match against Bangladesh, Mushfiqur Rahim. The Tigers wicket keeper, made a childish mistake to reprieve Kane Williamson early in his innings. Who then went onto to build a match winning partnership with Brendon Taylor.

Against South Africa, Williamson nicked a ball through to the Proteus keeper Quinton de Kock, who for some strange reason did not go for an appeal. Williamson made an unbeaten century and sunk South Africa. Later in that week West Indies almost had them in Old Trafford but Carlos Brathwaite’s straight pool was caught by Trent Boult just inside the long on boundary.

A meter or two and the outcome of that match could be very different. But to their credit they got past crunch moments and proved their worth by beating hot favorite Indian team in the semifinal. All in all, it is fair to say, they deserve their second consecutive world cup final. Just like 2015, they are up against the home team in the final and most definitely will give their all to go one up from their last world cup campaign.

The stage is set. While the world cup trophy is waiting to embrace a brand new winner, and the good old Lord’s is waiting to host another World Cup final, players from both sides would appreciate if the clock could run a bit faster, so would the enthusiastic followers of the game around the globe.

-Saadat Ullah Kawser

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