What comes to your mind when you think about the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup? You can be forgiven for remembering the World Cup only for its extraordinary final between hosts England and New Zealand. The match can easily be called the greatest final in the history of the World Cup, the greatest match in the history of the World Cup, even the greatest ODI in history of cricket.
On this day in 2019, England, the inventors of the game, lifted the coveted trophy for the first time despite not ‘traditionally’ beating their opponents. Eoin Morgan’s team were declared winners for hitting more boundaries than New Zealand after the match and the super over ended in a tie. This is the script beyond the wildest of imaginations and it was exhilarating to see the action unfolding in a packed Lord’s.
New Zealand won the toss and elected to bat. England bowlers did a fine job to restrict the Kiwis to 241/8 in 50 overs. Chris Woakes and Liam Plunkett picked three wickets each while Henry Nicholls made a top score of 55.
In the chase, England lost four wickets quite early, but the fifth-wicket partnership between Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler ensured the team stayed in the hunt. Buttler fell in the 45th over after scoring 59 with England still needing 46 runs.
Four overs, 39 runs to win. Three overs, 34 runs to win. Two overs, 24 runs to win. In the 49th over, Jimmy Neesham removed Plunkett and could’ve had a wicket in the very next ball only for Trent Boult overstepping on the boundary rope while completing a catch. Ben Stokes survived, and crucially, six runs were added to the tally. Neesham then removed Jofra Archer in the final ball of the over.
One over left. 15 runs to win. Two wickets in hand. Two dots in the first two balls, It looked like Boult was winning this battle against Stokes. But then Stokes smashed a six in the third ball followed by another six runs, this time by not sending the ball into the stands. Stokes pushed the ball to deep midwicket for a double while Martin Guptill aimed for a direct hit. The ball hit the diving Stokes’ bat and deflected for a boundary. If bizarre had an image, this was it.
Three runs from two balls followed by two run-outs but England had tied the game.
In the super over, England batted first. Stokes and Buttler faced Boult and scored 15 runs. Archer took the ball for England. The man who was inexperienced in the international stage had a lot on his shoulders. Wide, two, six, two, two, and one. Final ball and two runs required for New Zealand to lift the trophy. Guptill sends the ball towards deep mid-wicket but couldn’t finish the second run as Buttler collects the throw and shatters the stumps.
Joy for England, despair for New Zealand. Kane Williamson, New Zealand’s captain could only watch in disbelief. Or maybe he was thinking of how brutally funny this game of cricket can be.