If there was one moment where the tide significantly shifted towards England’s favour in their pursuit of the target of 242 in the World Cup final at Lord’s against New Zealand, it was the moment Ben Stokes’ bat came between the ball and wicketkeeper Tom Latham’s gloves off the fourth ball of the last over.
The equation was simple – England needed 15 runs off the last over to win, and Trent Boult was the bowler that was going to steam in from the other end. The first ball to Stokes was a brilliant wide Yorker, which the batsman could not get any contact on.
The second ball was a dot-ball as well, and with 15 needed off four balls, the pressure was mounting. But Stokes brought his team right back into the match with a six off the third ball, getting down on one knee and sending the ball sailing over mid-wicket. Nine runs needed, three balls remaining.
All the drama happened on the next ball. Boult bowled a full-toss angled between middle and leg-stump, and Stokes hit the ball down to deep-midwicket where Martin Guptill was fielding. The batsmen had taken one run, and Stokes was scurrying down to his end to complete the second run and launched himself into a full length dive, arms and bat extended.
The ball thrown by Guptill, however, hit Stokes’ extended bat and went down third-man for a fortuitous boundary, as Stokes held his hands up to indicate he did not mean that one bit. After some confusion, England were awarded six runs – two for the double and four for the deflection and overthrow off the bat.
The equation suddenly moved to three required off the last two balls. In an attempt to take a double, Adil Rashid was then run-out trying to take the second run. So while Stokes would be on strike for the last ball of the match with two runs required, England only had one wicket remaining.
Stokes hit the last ball to long-on, and trying to run a double, this time it was Mark Wood who was caught short. The match would go into a super over.
The four deflected off Stokes’ bat proved to be a massive differential in the end, and talking about the moment after the match, Stokes said, “It’s not the way I wanted to do it, the ball going off my bat like that, I apologised to Kane.”
While it was a good touch from Stokes to concede that, the match was eventually won by England. That too, after the Super Over was tied and the match was decided on the differential of which team had hit more boundaries through the match. A thrilling end to a match which no team technically “lost.”
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