London: It was a day of pure luck, one could argue, as England defeated New Zealand to win the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 by the narrowest of margins, here at Lord’s. It had been raining overnight, so when the covers came off to reveal a green surface, Kane Williamson had no hesitations in choosing to bat first after winning the toss. However, it didn’t go completely according to his plans, as Martin Guptill again fell cheaply, but not before upper-cutting a short ball over third man for six and bashing a length delivery through long-off for four.
The Kiwi skipper found himself in a familiar situation, having to come in within the first 10 overs. He, along with the also-out-of-form Henry Nichols, steadied the ship, adding 74 for the 2nd wicket before being given out on a review for caught behind. From there on, wickets kept falling at regular intervals, at the end of which the Kiwis folded for another meagre score of 241/8 in 50 overs.
New Zealand knew that their bowling had to be exceptional to get anywhere near victory, which they duly did, as Matt Henry and Trent Boult bowled impeccable lines and lengths on a pitch which was offering plenty of swing and seam. In the 6th over, Jason Roy edged a perfect out-swinger straight to Tom Latham behind the wickets, after which Matt Henry and Trent Boult hardly gave anything away, a trend which was continued by Colin De Grandhomme as the 10th, 11th and 12th overs were all maidens.
The pressure proved a little too much as Joe Root and the in-form Johnny Bairstow got out in quick succession, followed by skipper Eoin Morgan in 23.1 overs, leaving England reeling at 86/4. Someone had to hold the fort if England had to justify their ‘favourites’ tag, and that ‘someone’ was the pair of Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler, whose 5th wicket partnership of 110 momentarily brought them back in the chase. At the fall of the 5th wicket, England were 196/5 in 44.5 overs, requiring 46 off 5.1 overs.
Chris Woakes and Liam Plunkett both went down fighting, and this is when the drama began. Ben Stokes holed out James Neesham in the penultimate over to Trent Boult at long-on, but the Kiwi tripped over the ropes with the ball in hand to give England six runs. The last over was even more dramatic as after Stokes bludgeoned Boult over mid-wicket for a maximum, he darted off for a double on the fourth bowl. While diving for the crease, the throw hit his bat and went behind the batting wicket for four, giving England another six runs. Adil Rashid ran himself out on the last ball, levelling the score and taking the match to the Super Over.
The ‘deciding’ over started with a triple to Ben Stokes off Boult, followed by a single and a four. The last bowl also went for a boundary, giving the Kiwis a target of 16 from 6 balls. From England’s side, the fiery, new sensation Jofra Archer was given the responsibility of defending the ‘15’. He started off poorly with a wide down the off side, after which he got punted for two and then hammered over mid-wicket for a six. Managing only four off the next two balls, the Kiwis needed two from the final delivery. In a misfortune of epic proportions, Martin Guptill ran himself out while attempting the second, resulting in a tied Super Over. England were declared winners as they had hit more boundaries during their innings and Super Over.