“That’s the best white ball game of all time!” – tweeted Stuart Broad, England’s Test bowler, after the culmination of the high-octane final of the ICC World Cup 2019 between England and New Zealand. It was a game for the ages. It was a game worthy of the final. And it was a game that would be remembered for decades to come for the various ebbs and flows and incessant drama it had.
After batting first New Zealand had registered a decent score on the board – 241-8. However, England’s batting might looked too strong for such a small total. New Zealand, though, had other ideas. Led magnificently by Kane Williamson, the Kiwi bowlers utilized the slowness of the pitch brilliantly and bowled tight lengths to choke the English batsman. The match ebbed and flowed throughout the second innings with both teams having the upper hand at different moments. At 83-4, New Zealand looked to be registering a massive upset. But Ben Stokes (84*) and Jos Butler (59) fought back to bring them on the verge of victory.
A flurry of wickets towards the end then saw New Zealand clawing back in. But then, incredible drama followed. Trent Boult caught Ben Stokes on the boundary in the 49th over, but stepped on the ropes that led to a six being signaled. Then, in the final over, as Stokes ran for a second run, a throw from the deep hit his bat and the ball deflected to the boundary. That gave England four extra and lucky runs.
The game eventually ended in a tie and had to be decided courtesy a Super Over. This was a final England and New Zealand both fought till the very end. And even after the completion of 102 overs, we couldn’t get a clear winner as crazily enough the Super Over too was tied. England eventually won the match on a mere technicality – for hitting more boundaries in the match.
There has been an out-pour of angst against the ICC for making a rule that is so skewed and unfair on one team. But the thing is the rules were equal for both teams. And New Zealand might well have ended on the right side of these rules.
But, yes. There is a case for the ICC to relook the rules in a final so that one team doesn’t get a raw deal. But that is a discussion for another day.
For now, one must congratulate England on a great World Cup performance and cherish the amazing final we all got to witness.
This game was the perfect example of a match going down the wire. And a perfect example of cricket being the real winner.
England are the new ODI World Cup champions. But New Zealand were no less of a champion and fought tooth and nail till the very last ball of the batch. In the end, the luck favored England. Many might call it unfair on New Zealand. Perhaps that is true. But England have earned their luck for displaying a brand of cricket that has been sensational. They were the best team in this World Cup and in the end the best team has lifted the trophy.