After six weeks and 47 matches full of riveting cricket action, it all comes down to the final. England and New Zealand will face each other at Lord’s, London, this Sunday and by the end of the day, one of these teams will have a World Cup win against their name.
The two teams and their journeys in World Cup Cricket have been similar- it has been so close but yet so far for both these teams in World Cup on so many occasions.
England were runners up on three occasions in the first five editions of the World Cup- a testimony to their remarkable consistency but a team which failed to go past the final hurdle.
On the other hand is New Zealand, who have made it to eight semi-finals in the twelve editions but do not have a single World Cup win to their name.
While England is making its first appearance in World Cup final since 1992, New Zealand on the other hand, were finalists of the previous edition as well but yet again failed to take one more step and clinch the title up against Australia in the finals.
On Sunday though, one of these teams will be relieved from their disappointments and regrets as one team would have finally won cricket’s most coveted trophy.
However, there is no doubt in the minds of those who have followed the game closely for the last four-five years. England will start as favourites. The hosts have no apparent weakness and are masters at their home conditions.
However, New Zealand’s best chance at lifting the trophy would be if they make the best use of the resources they have. Slightly windy and overcast conditions would make the Kiwis look as strong as England but if the weather is clear and it is a bright sunny day, England will have far more firepower in them than the Kiwis to come out and emerge as a winner.
The Kiwi bowlers will look to make early inroads as they did against India and that is perhaps the only way they could go on to win this contest. Their batting has revolved around Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor and they would want their top order to finally score some runs after showing so much faith in the likes of Martin Guptill whose only significant contribution in the team has been the run out of MS Dhoni.
Their bowling, on the other hand, will be led by Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson. There is Matt Henry too who delivered a match-winning spell for the Black Caps against India. However, if there is no assistant for the pacers at Lord’s, it would definitely be England who will have a bowling unit more efficient for the day.
England have Chris Woakes, Jofra Archer, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid and then they also have somebody like Ben Stokes- each bowler bringing in a different skill into play.
Meanwhile, their batting looks just about flawless with Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan, Ben Stokes all in good form and rhythm and each of them with at least a good innings under their belt in this tournament.
And so, after 27 years, it is England’s best chance to lift the cup and perhaps it is their cup to lose.
However, can the Black Caps, on the back of an outstanding team effort against India, led by an astute captain, muster all their strength and play to the best of their ability to defeat the overwhelming favourties at their home turf?
We will find out this Sunday. Live action starts from 3 pm (IST) onwards.
England: Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Jos Buttler (wk), Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, James Vince, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (c), Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Ross Taylor, Tom Latham (wk), Tom Blundell (wk), Colin de Grandhomme, Jimmy Neesham, Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry, Mitchell Santner, Henry Nicholls, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi.