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ICC World Cup Final | Fiery England Meet Gutsy New Zealand as Both Eye Historic First Title

Karthik Lakshmanan |July 13, 2019, 8:56 PM IST
ICC World Cup Final | Fiery England Meet Gutsy New Zealand as Both Eye Historic First Title

London: Somewhere in the middle of the World Cup when England were winning nearly everything, Eoin Morgan was asked who he felt his team's toughest opponent in the World Cup would be. The reporter himself gave Morgan the options of India and Australia, but Morgan had his eyes elsewhere.

"New Zealand. They fly under the radar," he had said.

A few weeks on, England and their biggest threat will face at Lord's for the title in what's easily the biggest match in recent years for both countries.

Much has changed in the few weeks. England lost a couple, making their path to the semifinal difficult and even doubtful. New Zealand lost three in a row but made it to the top four thanks to their success in the first half. There were even questions on whether they deserved to get as far as they did.

But here they are, England and New Zealand in the final, in their own trademark style. New Zealand have scrapped their way through. England have barged in after a few hiccups. The manner in which England and New Zealand won their respective semifinal showed everything about them; England blasted Australia out of the competition while New Zealand fought and fought and fought till they overcame India.

Either way it goes, Sunday is set to be a historic day for not just the winner but cricket as such. The game is set to have a new world champion for the first time since 1996, when Sri Lanka won. It should send waves of hope through the rest of the cricket world - that anything is possible and drastic turnarounds are very much possible.

New Zealand

An England win would be a victory of four years of planning and a radical shift to a completely new brand of cricket. Who would have imagined this day four years back when they left Australia without even making it to the quarterfinal of the World Cup? The last time they were in a final was in 1992. It's one of the most incredible stories in cricket waiting for a fitting finish.

A New Zealand win would be a victory for years of consistency. They've been in World Cup semifinals eight times, but have only twice including this year made it to the finals. The other occasion was in 2015, when they lost to co-hosts Australia in Melbourne. It will be a terrific story of the fighting underdog if New Zealand go one better this year.

Popular notion would suggest England are favourites. They have the more all-round side on paper, with in form players from top to bottom. They made light work of New Zealand in the league stage too. They are the home side, and unless the pitch is slow and low, they're always going to feel comfortable about their approach. It could well be one-way traffic if the pitch is a belter.

But give some help for the pacers, and New Zealand would be licking their lips. Trent Boult and Matt Henry at the top, and Lockie Ferguson in the middle is as good a pace attack as any in the tournament. Just ask India. England's batting has been driven by openers Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow. The duo even put on 123 runs within 18.4 overs against New Zealand in the league game, and this battle at the top could well decide the game.

The reverse is crucial too. England's openers - Martin Guptill and Henry Nicholls - are struggling to score. Chris Woakes and Jofra Archer have been in tremendous form. Guptill's struggles, just 167 runs in 9 innings, has meant Kane Williamson is effectively playing the role of an opener too. The captain has stepped up every time, scoring 548 runs in just 8 innings, but wouldn't mind some help from the rest.

England beat Australia

Less than 24 hours to go for the game, the Lord's pitch had plenty of grass on it. It could well be what New Zealand would have hoped for given their pacers will be in play. If their batsmen could step up, we could have a game on.

In many ways, it's fitting that England will face New Zealand in the final of their four-year ODI resurrection plan. It was against New Zealand, on June 9 2015 at Edgbaston in Birmingham, that it begun. Straight off the disappointing World Cup exit, England took on the Kiwis and blasted 408 for 9 with Joe Root and Jos Buttler scoring quick centuries. It stunned the cricket world and set the tone for the rest of the path.

Four years on, can they add the icing to the cake when they meet New Zealand once again?

Probable XIs

England: Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan(c), Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler(w), Chris Woakes, Liam Plunkett, Jofra Archer, Adil Rashid, Mark Wood.

New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Henry Nicholls, Kane Williamson(c), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham(w), James Neesham, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry, Trent Boult.

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Cricket World Cup Points Table

Pos Team P W L T/NR PTS NRR
1
IND
9 7 1 1 15 +0.80
2
AUS
9 7 2 0 14 +0.86
3
ENG
9 6 3 0 12 +1.15
4
NZ
9 5 3 1 11 +0.17
5
PAK
9 5 3 1 11 -0.43
6
SL
9 3 4 2 8 -0.91
7
SA
9 3 5 1 7 -0.03
8
BAN
9 3 5 1 7 -0.41
9
WI
9 2 6 1 5 -0.22
10
AFG
9 0 9 0 0 -1.32

Team Rankings

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 3631 113
2 New Zealand 2547 111
3 South Africa 2917 108
4 England 3663 105
5 Australia 2640 98
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6420 123
2 India 6807 122
3 New Zealand 4763 113
4 Australia 5470 112
5 South Africa 5193 110
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 7365 283
2 England 4253 266
3 South Africa 4196 262
4 Australia 5471 261
5 India 7273 260
see more