London: Liam Plunkett’s three-wicket haul in the middle overs helped England keep New Zealand to 241-8 in the ICC World Cup 2019 final at Lord’s on Sunday.
Plunkett got Kane Williamson, Henry Nicholls and James Neesham to break New Zealand’s flow in the middle overs and end with 3-42, while Chris Woakes took 3-37 from nine overs. Plenty of New Zealand batsmen got starts but Nicholls’ 55 was the highest score of the innings.
New Zealand opted to bat first although there was grass on the wicket, sticking to their game plan of putting runs on the board in a pressure game.
The game plan seemed clear early on - Martin Guptill tried to attack his way out of trouble while Nicholls held one end. Guptill was successful in hitting two fours and a six but the positive intent brought about his downfall too. He was trapped leg before by an in-swinger from Chris Woakes looking for a big drive. It was as plumb as it got, but Guptill used up the review that would hurt Ross Taylor later on.
At the other end, Nicholls scrapped his way out of trouble. He was given lbw to Woakes but reviewed successfully. He was joined by Kane Williamson as the duo stitched together a 74-run stand for the second wicket to steady the ship. Williamson looked to weather the storm, taking 12 balls to get off the mark as New Zealand scored 33-1 in the first 10.
Williamson scored just 4 off his first 27 balls while Nicholls got going with a few boundaries. The arrival of Adil Rashid got Williamson going too, but just when the partnership was building, Plunkett broke it with the big wicket of Williamson. The New Zealand captain nicked a cross-seam delivery, and although umpire Kumar Dharmasena didn’t spot the edge, England reviewed successfully.
Williamson falling in the 23rd over was a big boost for England, who made it better with the wicket of Nicholls for 55, the left-hander missing another cross-seam ball from Plunkett. After a poor start - his conceded 19 runs from 3 overs in his first spell - Plunkett returned 2-7 from four overs in his second spell.
Much depended on the experienced Taylor, but he fell to an umpiring error from Marais Erasmus who gave him lbw off Mark Wood. Replays showed the ball was going over the stumps but New Zealand did not have reviews left. Jimmy Neesham began in a counter-attacking manner, breaking England’s complete control in the middle overs. There was even a period of 92 balls where New Zealand didn’t score a boundary!
Neesham, though, perished that way too, lofting Plunkett to mid-on for his third scalp.
New Zealand struggled for momentum right till the end. Tom Latham got a few but Colin de Grandhomme struggled with a 28-ball 16. Woakes kept bowling slower balls but De Grandhomme and Latham kept being surprised, and fell in soft manners. New Zealand scored just 62 runs in the last 10.