BY ALI NAQVI –
What a sensational game of cricket. So many twists and turns in a match that had to crown the champion of world cricket. England and New Zealand has played the first nail biting final in the history of cricket. A thrilling and heart stopping end to the final showdown of ICC World Cup 2019.
The home of cricket has witnessed a historical final that was too close to produce a result. No world cup final had ever tied before. It is hard to believe that England is now the world champion and that New Zealand is the runners up while the 50-over game as well as the Super Over were tied. England did not beat the Kiwis in the ground.
England is the world champion on technical grounds by winning on boundaries. It is hard to put into words the astonishment of all those people who were watching the game. The epic match had an epic ending with a tragic result for New Zealand, so close yet so far.
This world cup has been like a roller coaster ride for most of the teams especially New Zealand and England. The Kiwis won its first few matches and was at the top of the points table but later lost consecutive games to drop down to the fourth position. In the semi-final, India looked strong enough to secure a place in the final but it turned out to be the other way round.
England was favorite to win the cup but it lost its matches against Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Australia that made it tougher to qualify. But England defeated Australia in the semi-final and reached the final for the fourth time.
The match started with a 15-minute delay due to rain. After winning the toss and electing to bat New Zealand was off to a cautious start. English bowlers bowled really well as wickets kept falling at regular intervals. The first to go was Guptill on 19 then the big wicket of skipper Williamson on 30 was taken by Plunkett. The partnership between Ross Taylor and Nicholis was looking to consolidate when Ross Talyor was given out LBW by the empire, a decision that could have been turned down if New Zealand had the review.
Nicholis scored 55 but could not convert it into a big innings. He was rooted out by Plunkett. New Zealand’s efforts to fight back were dashed again by Plunkett. Neesham was sent back to pavilion on 19. Things were looking bleak for the Kiwis with a scorecard of 179 for 5 after 40 overs.
Every team aims to score 8 to 10 runs per over in the last 10 but New Zealand could only manage to score 60, exactly 6 runs per over. The approach of the batting lineup was negative from the start of the innings. In a world cup final the top 5 should have shown some aggressive intent. The top order was defenseless and the tail-enders were toothless to say the least.
England had a shaky start with Roy and Root falling early. Bairstow and Morgan could not play long innings too. Jos Buttler and stokes played great innings under pressure to take England to the final over needing 15 runs. What happened in the final over and what came after that is better left unsaid.
It has been one of the best games of cricket that the world has ever seen. There could not have been a better end to a great World Cup. This match will always be remembered not only in the history of cricket but also in the history of sports.