World Cup finals, Lords Ground-The Mecca of Cricket, the holiest place for a cricketer to play his game, sold out stadium, men in ties, hats and suits while women equally lissome in their conduct, one part of the ground filled with punters with microphones and thousands of people cheering outside the Mecca of Cricket to cheer their favorite teams where either of them haven’t won a World Cup since 1975. So obviously, this was going to be a big game, for the 1st time you could even see English fans crying, folding their hands like Indians and praying to God while on the other side Kiwis who are usually calm and sophisticated were at their energetic best to cheer their Men in Black make history. The stage, the aura and the magnitude of the event was all set up and a thriller match was on the cards though many of us including me had predicted England would clinch an easy win! While NZ has a good bowling attack alongwith a solid middle order, England equally have a good bowling line up but what sets them apart is their in-form top order which has played much faster than Kiwis throughout the tournament. That was the only difference which set England apart from Kiwis entering this match.
New Zealand opting to bat first for the 1st time had their openers looking in a different mood with Guptill (19 off 18) trying to start off in his natural style while Nicholls (55 off 77) finally being able to convert his 20’s and 30’s. However, NZ lost their two big fishes Kane (30) and Ross Taylor (15) for low scores which hampered their dreams of putting on a big total. Tom Latham looked good in his sturdy 47 while there wasn’t much to say about the scores below him as NZ reached a total of 241/8 in 50 overs. Quicksters, Chris Woakes (3/37) and Liam Plunkett (3/42) were the pick of the bowlers for England.
Even though it was an odd total to defend, everyone by now was aware about the conditions at Lords, the wicket changes in the 2nd half while the outfield was certainly little bit damp which makes hitting boundaries not that easy. Hence, a 241 run target looks easy on papers but in reality it was going to be a difficult task. Starting off the chase, England kept on losing wickets at regular intervals with scoreboard reading 86/4 in the 24th over. However, the man for the big occasions, the reincarnation of Freddie Flintoff-Ben Stokes fought it out with a 110 run stand for the 5th wicket with Buttler (59) who was looking equally dangerous. Both were looking good to finish off an historic chase before Ferguson provided a crucial breakthrough delivering a tempting ball to Guptill which resulted in a skier straight into the hands of 12th man Southee (which was quite a stunning catch) Ben Stokes kept taking those odd ones and twos, smashed some boundaries in between but his partners from the other end kept on changing. In came the last over, NZ’s finest Boult to deliver the final blow and boy he was bang on with two dot balls to begin with! Now the equation was 15 from 4 when Stokes smashed a magical sweep six to a fast bowler straight into the stands. Now 9 required from 3 balls, Stokes faces boult, hits the ball and tries to take the 2nd run and that’s where the irish luck came into play for the England team. Ben Stokes tried to dive into the crease while attempting a second run. The throw from Guptill in the deep hit the bat of Stokes and ricocheted to the boundary. Umpire Dharmasena, after consulting his fellow on-field umpire Erasmus, signalled six runs – two scored by the batsman and four off overthrow.
Now the equation was 2 runs from 1 ball, Stokes somehow managed a single to draw the match while it was on Mark Wood to run for his life in the penultimate ball. However, a brilliant fielding under pressure ensured a run out in the last ball of the match as the game ended in a draw. Amidst all this tension, drama, goosebumps and intense pressure, one thing which was remarkably worth noticing was the Captain Cool Kane Williamson, he was still as calm as any human could be despite being the most relevant person for NZ on the planet for those particular moments. Even after Stokes smashed a six to Boult in the last over, Kane instead of getting angry or frustrated gave a devilish smile reflecting his patience and confidence. Even Morgan- whenever you look at him, you get a feeling of a stone cold killer face without any expressions, even commentators said once-“look at morgan, you can’t be human if you are cool even at this juncture of the game”
With everything now left to the super over, there were various rules to the game and one of the most absurd ones being-where a team which has more boundaries smashed in an over (incase of a draw) becomes the winner. Also as per the net run rate, New Zealand had to win this as a draw would mean a victory for the England team.
Super Over Analysis-
England batting first mustered a total of 15 runs in Boult over with one boundary each in the name of Stokes and Buttler. 16 runs is definitely a good total to defend considering the intensity and pressure surrounding the game. Boult who had been taken for a few could have been avoided for the super over while Ferguson or Grandhomme who were economical as well as amongst the wickets could have been the better bets.
Chasing 16 from 6, 24yr old and just 14 ODI’s old- Jofra Archer was made to deliver the most important moment of his lifetime as well as of his career. The youngster was surely under intense pressure and so came the wide in the very 1st ball. To make things better, Neesham launched a big six in Jofra’s 2nd ball making it 9 runs in 2 balls. The next two balls, Neesham scrambled hard taking 4 runs in 2 balls. Now the equation was 3 runs in 2 balls, Archer delivered a juicy short one which Neesham failed to pull it for a boundary but somehow took a single of it.
Now it was 2 runs in 1 ball, Martin Guptill on strike and Jofra Archer probably in one of the most tensed situations a human specie can ever be in delivered ball right on the money which Guptill dodged it trying desperately to complete two runs which ended in a run out!
It was 15/1 in one over for NZ, a tie on the paper but an official World Cup Finals win for England. The entire Lords was on a different high. The crackers started burning in large numbers, the English players, fans and their families were experiencing ecstacy, there were tears of joy, tears of pride and tears of togetherness in the dressing room- England team won their 1st ever World Cup in the most holiest, in the most iconic place a cricketer can ever be in-at Lord’s. English streets were filled with fans chanting and dancing, a scene exactly which we witnessed in Mumbai post our 2011 World Cup win.
New Zealand on the other hand will go home a bit disappointed with luck not favoring them but without an iota of doubt, they will be remembered in the same frame as World Cup Winners. They performed and fought hard truly like any champion team would do and you got to feel sad for them. Never the less, it was an Iconic game of cricket which has certainly brought life back into the classic ODI version of International Cricket. All of us are lucky to be alive when this match happened as this will be one of the most remembered matches in the history of ODI cricket, a few decades down the line, many of us would be talking about this game to our kids/grandkids and with a cup of tea in our hand, we will get a sense of pride as well as Déjà vu that we are lucky to share such cricketing tales to the next generation!
The England players must have made their ageing Queen Elizabeth happy by presenting her & the entire country their 1st ever World Cup while the players will also recieve a royal pampering for sure!
Article orignally written by the same writer for sportsnasha.com