On this day in 2019, one of the best ODI matches in history concluded in England capturing their maiden ICC Cricket World Cup title by the barest of margins, defeating New Zealand in the quarterfinals on basis of boundary count. Heading into the finals, both teams had a great showing in the semi-finals. England sent packing arch-rivals and favourites Australia out of the tournament after an eight-wicket win. New Zealand had also handed a heartbreaking loss to a dominant Indian team by 18 runs.
The stage was set for the crowning of a new World Cup champion for the first time after Sri Lanka’s triumph in 1996. It was a chance for England, the inventors of the sport to capture the biggest cricketing prize at the ‘Home of Cricket’, Lord’s stadium. Batting first, New Zealand put on 241/8 on the board. England consistently took wickets and did not allow big partnerships to develop except for a stand between Henry Nicholls and skipper Kane Williamson, which lasted for 74 runs.
Nicholls (55), wicketkeeper-batter Tom Latham (47) and Williamson (30) posted some vital scores for the Kiwis. The other batters mostly struggled against the English pace, led by Chris Woakes (3/37) and Liam Plunkett (3/42). Pacers Mark Wood and Jofra Archer also got a scalp each. England was put on the task of chasing 242. However, England lost some early wickets. The side was reduced to 4/86 after heavyweights like Jason Roy (17), Jonny Bairstow (36), Joe Root (7) and skipper Eoin Morgan (9) fell without making much impact.
Then came the all-rounder Ben Stokes who put on a 110-run stand with wicketkeeper batter Jos Buttler, this brought England back in the game. Buttler fell for 59 to pacer Lockie Ferguson, leaving England at 5/196 in 44.5 overs. The equation was down to 46 runs in 31 balls. Stokes somehow carried England through the final few overs without much support from the lower order.
England needed 15 in the final over. The over bowled by Trent Boult started with two dot balls, followed by a six from Stokes. The next ball saw the batters running between the wickets and in a dramatic turn of events, the ball hit the bat of Stokes, who dived to complete his run. The ball went racing away to the boundary, giving England a total of six when they expected it the least. It seemed that the deflection had cost Kiwis their maiden WC. The target had reduced from 9 off 3 balls to 3 runs off 2 balls. With the equation down to 3 runs off 2 balls. The match took another turn, as in the next two balls saw Adil Rashid and Mark Wood got run out while going for that extra run.
England finished the game at 241 in 50 overs. Jimmy Neesham (3/43) and Lockie Ferguson (3/50) were the leading bowlers for England. The last over had so much drama but still could not separate both sides as scores were level. It was all down to the super over. Buttler and Stokes helped England score 15 runs in their over. New Zealand now had another shot at glory, with 16 needed off 6.
The Kiwis had the start they wanted, scoring 11 runs in the first 3 balls, with a huge six from Neesham and extras helping the side. With 5 needed off three, NZ was a hit away from the title. NZ could manage three runs in next two balls. With 2 needed off the last ball, it was Guptill who ran for that extra run and was run out by wicketkeeper Buttler. The super over had ended in a tie for the first time. It was New Zealand which ran out Wood on the final ball of the inning to give themselves another chance after an unfortunate deflection. But the next run out was done by England, to seal the World Cup for themselves on basis of boundary count.
One full-innings, and one super over ended in a tie and the World Cup was awarded to the hosts on basis of hits sent down the fence. It was the most unfortunate loss for the Kiwis, who had played some remarkable cricket in the tournament. On the other hand, the inventors of the sport got the prize that they always dreamt of. The difference was boundaries. New Zealand had hit 16, while England had hit 24. This shortage of eight boundaries became the cause of NZ’s heartbreaking defeat, something that was as unexpected as the ball deflecting off Stokes’ bat and going away for four. This WC final was hailed by numerous fans and cricketers as one of the greatest ODI matches of time. There was ‘pure ecstacy at one side and ‘pure agony’ at the other. England had won their first WC by the ‘barest of margins’. These words uttered by commentators still live in the hearts of many fans to this day.
Brief Scores: New Zealand: 241 (Henry Nicholls 55, Tom Latham 47, Chris Woakes 3/37) lost to England: 241 (Ben Stokes 84*, Jos Buttler 59, Jimmy Neesham 3/43) on basis of boundary count.