The World Cup has finally come home. England have kept their date with destiny, albeit a little controversially and not without a lot of drama. It doesn’t get closer than this, beating a side on the number of boundaries hit in the innings after staying level even after a Super Over custom-made only for the World Cup.
Eoin Morgan lifted the trophy but New Zealand won hearts by staying true to their fighting streak. World Cup finals tend to disappoint. The last time Lord’s had hosted one, the finest ever Pakistan team crumbled for just 132 against Australia.
Previous finals in 2015, 2007 and 2003 too were equally one-sided as Australia made short work every time, irrespective of the opponent. That story has been set straight now. There was every kind of drama you could imagine. This was the dream final.
Perhaps it wasn’t meant to be for New Zealand. Just like how India were bound to be found out for not having a proper No 4, New Zealand couldn’t have expected to win every time after posting a par score. So well rounded is this England team that they don’t baulk at any target.
On a difficult pitch, against the most disciplined bowling attack of the tournament, England’s batting depth again came to their rescue in the form of a 110-run partnership between Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes.
New Zealand had some extraordinary moments of bad luck. When England needed 22 off 9 balls, and New Zealand were chocking them, Stokes heaved one to the boundary. Trent Boult stood near the ropes, caught the ball. Then he fell over backwards. It was a six. England needed 16 off 8.
When England needed 9 off 3, and Stokes was desperately trying to make ground for a second run, a Martim Guptill throw from the deep, destined for the stumps perhaps, hit the outstretched bat of a diving Stokes and was deflected to the boundary. Six runs from that ball. Kane Williamson could have been the one lifting the trophy. But it was not to be.