2019 Cricket World Cup final: History beckons as England, New Zealand vie for World Cup glory

Who'll lift it? Both Eoin Morgan and Kane Williamson will go out to lay their hands on the coveted torphy. Photo: Twitter/@ICC

Who'll lift it? Both Eoin Morgan and Kane Williamson will go out to lay their hands on the coveted torphy. Photo: Twitter/@ICC  

Roy and Bairstow have been intimidating and Trent Boult and Matt Henry would love to repeat their semifinal show.

England, cricket’s birthplace, seeks its biggest moment under the sun very appropriately at a venue steeped in history. Lord’s has its iconic red-brick pavilion and even the walls have gravitas and feature stunning lines, like the following one from W.G. Grace: “The great thing in hitting is, not to be half-hearted about it; but when you make up your mind to hit, to do it as if the whole match depended upon that particular stroke.” 

The ‘home of cricket’, as Lord’s is referred in brochures, nameplates and its Twitter account, has its quirks ranging from a turf that gently slopes besides a ghastly space-ship styled press box which doesn’t blend with the prevailing aesthetics. There is irony too as one of its access points has a black and white picture of Sunil Gavaskar and this after the great opener was once barred entry at the Grace Gates by overzealous Marylebone Cricket Club stewards! 

Live on FTA channels

In this theatre, largely ancient in spirit with some modern influences, Eoin Morgan’s men will take on New Zealand in the ICC World Cup final on Sunday. It is also heartening that in a nation where football reigns, this particular clash, marinated in overwhelming expectations, will be beamed live on free-to-air channels and the common man can savour it with his favourite beverage and some fish and chips at home.

2019 Cricket World Cup final: History beckons as England, New Zealand vie for World Cup glory

This is an epic contest which is England’s to lose. After a splendid start before a series of losses forced it into a ‘win or perish’ zone within the league phase, the host found a pulsating tail-wind and qualified for the semifinals where old foe Australia got hammered. The return of Jason Roy after he recovered from a hamstring injury, has turned out to be the x-factor and his pulverising bat found a mirror image in opening partner Jonny Bairstow. 

Strong batting line-up

The relatively sedate Joe Root has hit the straps, Morgan found key runs against Australia and England bats deep as Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler are around to either rescue an innings or indulge in a biff. The bowling core has its varied shades of pace and swing, be it through Jofra Archer or a Chris Woakes and Adil Rashid is present in the spin-stakes. 

In the opposition corner, New Zealand awaits with a chuckle. It is a pretty relaxed unit, aware of its strengths: dogged batting embellished through skipper Kane Williamson’s authoritative blade, plus a fast attack led by left-armer Trent Boult and Matt Henry, while spinner Mitchell Santner does a holding job. This joust’s fate primarily hinges on the battle between Williamson’s bowlers and the home squad’s fire-spewing willow wielders on a pitch with its tinge of green. 

Pep talk?

On match-eve here on Saturday, just before they trained, the Black Caps sat in a circle and Williamson spoke. He was perhaps quelling the nerves, may be pepping up his wards besides reminding them of being a bridesmaid in the 2015 edition when the Kiwis lost the summit clash to Australia. May be he was telling them, ‘let’s do this for our country, let’s do this for Baz (Brendon McCullum)’, who was the losing captain in the previous climax. Whatever be the conversation, surely the late Martin Crowe, a mentor for many in this bunch, would have approved from above. 

England and New Zealand have never won the World Cup since its inception in 1975. On Sunday evening with the forecast hinting at a fine summer day, one of the rivals would have scripted a fresh chapter that will last for posterity. 

Morgan has the force with him but remember, this is the place where Kapil’s Devils defended a paltry 183 against the mighty West Indies during the 1983 final. And as Williamson regularly reminds the press: “anything can happen on any day.” 

The teams (from):

 England: Eoin Morgan (captain), Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, Tom Curran, Liam Dawson and James Vince.

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (captain), Ross Taylor, Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, James Neesham, Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Tom Blundell, Colin Munro and Henry Nicholls.

Umpires: Kumar Dharmasena and Marais Erasmus; Third umpire: Rod Tucker; Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle.

Play starts at 3 p.m. IST.

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Printable version | Apr 9, 2020 5:02:43 AM |

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