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    July 14, 2019

    There’s no India, no Australia —two teams that have shared the last five titles but England and New Zealand—one of whom will wear the silverware for the first time in their cricketing history when seven-week long Cricket World Cup culminate today at cricket’s iconic venue—Lord’s.

    England is credited with making cricket a global game through their colonising past. But while their former colonies have got their hands on the World Cup–the trophy that matters the most in the game–England have long gone begging.

    They reached the finals three times, the last occasion being 1992, when they were losing finalists to Pakistan. Twenty-seven long years later, England have their best possible chance of lifting the trophy for the first time, when they take on New Zealand at Lords today. Given their pre-tournament preparations, England were a favourite to reach a home final but their journey has not been smooth.

    When Sri Lanka shocked them in a low-scoring thriller and Australia hammered them away in the group stages, they faced a moment of truth. But their resounding win in the semifinals over Australia, a team that has never so far conceded a semi, shows just how brutally they had prepared.

    England’s transformation in the last four years has been stunning. As Paul Farbrace, former English Assistant Coach, told this writer, much of their resurgence is owed to the impact of their skipper Eoin Morgan and coach Trevor Bayliss. A team that has dedicated significant time preparing for the Ashes, a pinnacle of their cricketing glory for many decades, embraced a new dimension to their limited-over approach. A fearless brand of cricket under Morgan was introduced after a complete overhaul of the team following their elimination from the 2015 World Cup. They are now reaping the rewards.

    Their journey means lot to them—the players and the supporters around.

    “It means a huge amount to me and everybody in the changing room,” said Morgan at the post match press conference in Lord’s yesterday. “It’s a culmination of four years of hard work, dedication, a lot of planning and it presents a huge opportunity to go on and try and win a World Cup. I think for everybody around the country, the support we’ve had throughout has been unquestionable and that’s — as a team, that is, you know, it makes you feel extremely lucky to be part of a team that has that sort of support.”

    England likely have the best balanced side in world cricket at present. With an order that can bat deep down and a bowling unit that can intimidate batsmen with their pace, bounce and variation, the team looks invincible on paper. In Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow they have a devastating opening combination while Morgan, Joe Root, Bens Stoke, Jos Buttler can dig deep to give the team the advantage. Their bowling, too, has been exceptional with the Barbados-born Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes leading the charge.

    Before the World Cup, England got rid of Alex Hales, who was expected to open innings with Jason Roy, over discipline issues. They then brought in Barbados born Jofra Archer, handing to him his international debut. Such is the boldness of England’s decision-making. For them, winning matters more than individuals. They fear no one, not even defeat, and, as proved in the last six weeks, they come out strong after each defeat with their eyes on the title.

    “We’re going to enjoy the game regardless. We’re going to try and take in as much as we can, it’s a World Cup Final, and we’re not going to shy away from that. As long as anything doesn’t affect performance, we’re going to try and take it in,” a pretty relaxed Morgan said.

    England skipper is aware of the threats that their oppositions could offer and complimented them for the brand of cricket they have played so far in the tournament.

    “Zealand are an extremely tough side, with a lot of experience, a lot of skill. They were the best side in the group stage and they improved, very similar to us, from the group stage to the semifinal performance. So we are striving to improve on our performance. No doubt they will,” Morgan added.

    To beat the English grit and determination, New Zealand must put an extraordinary performance today. They are in a final many did not expect them to reach. But, in overcoming the strong Indian team in a game that was played across two days owing to rain, they showed hunger to succeed. Like England, their road has been rocky. They began with a ten-wicket win over Sri Lanka but, along the way, suffered defeats to England Australia and India.

    “We’re just focusing on the sort of cricket that we want to play and hopefully that sort of performance despite being a final or a semifinal or a must-win or a five-match series, we still want to be putting out a strong performance that gives ourselves the best chance,” said New Zealand skipper at the pre match presser.

    The Kiwis rely heavily on Kane Williamson, the skipper, who has been the team’s guiding light both as batsman and leader. They also depend on their seam attack led by Trent Boult. New Zealand’s weakness are their openers. Martin Guptill, Henry Nicholls and Collin Munro have been tried at the top of the order but, except in the opening game, they have struggled to put runs on the board, leaving Williamson and Ross Taylor to shoulder the burden. The Kiwis will hope their misfiring openers produce results today to beat the ‘favourite’.

    “A lot of people say that (underdog) on a number of occasions which is great and I think England rightly so deserve to be favourites,” said Williamson. “Coming into this tournament from the start, they were favourites and they’ve been playing really good cricket. But whatever dog we are, it’s just important that we focus on the cricket that we want to play and we have seen over the years that anybody can beat anybody regardless of breed of dog.”

    The weather looks good and the pitch looks greener but as Morgan says a little bit of sun could burn it off, making it batting friendly.

    Whatever the outcome, there will be a first-time winner today. And despite India being eliminated, the organiser expect that crowd to flock the “Home of Cricket” to greet this new champion. The broadcasters have also struck a deal to show the match in free-to-air television for the first time in the tournament, allowing a large audience to witness history being made.

    History of past World Cup finals – from Lloyd’s century to Australia’s recent dominance
    Whether in Melbourne, Mumbai or Marylebone, the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup final is an occasion like no other. On Sunday the iconic Lord’s Cricket Ground will host its fifth World Cup final as hosts England face 2015 finalists New Zealand for the right to call themselves the best in the world.Whichever team comes out on top, cricket’s most coveted trophy will be handed to a new winner as the 12th edition of the tournament reaches a dizzying climax. We take a stroll down memory lane and look at World Cup finals gone by.
    1975: Lloyd leads by example

    Runs made with backs to the wall are gripping to watch and Clive Lloyd coined the original. The West Indies captain came to the crease with his side struggling on 50/3 against Dennis Lillee’s Australia. Under glassy skies and in front of a feverish Lord’s crowd, Lloyd struck a masterful counter-attacking century and Keith Boyce took four wickets to crown Windies the inaugural winners.

    1979: Richards
    strikes again

    Just as Lloyd bailed them out four years earlier, it was the turn of Viv Richards to extricate West Indies from a poor start and propel them to glory. His 138 from 157 balls was a brutal innings by modern standards and helped set a target of 286 – well beyond hosts England despite the stoical efforts of openers Geoffrey Boycott and Mike Brearley.

    1983: India’s summer

    India’s vaunted bowling attack wrested the World Cup from the grasp of West Indies as Kapil Dev masterminded a memorable triumph. Dev’s outfit only managed 183 first up and Windies looked destined for a third straight victory, but Mohinder Amarnath and Madan Lal exploited swinging and seaming conditions to get home by 43 runs.

    1987: Advance Australia

    An Australia side that Steve Waugh would later label ‘rank outsiders’ pulled off an unlikely triumph in India and Pakistan, the first time the World Cup was staged outside England. The Eden Gardens final against the English would be immortalised for Mike Gatting’s ill-judged reverse sweep when his team were well-placed and David Boon’s gutsy 75, the backbone of his country’s inaugural triumph.

    1992: Cornered Tigers roar back

    Imran Khan asked his team to fight and they scrapped for every inch until the skipper himself dismissed Richard Illingworth to clinch perhaps the World Cup’s most remarkable victory. Seemingly down and out after one win in their first five, Pakistan surged to five successive wins – inspired by Imran, whose 72 in the final earned his nation a maiden triumph in Melbourne.

    1996: De Silva’s service

    In what is still the finest all-round performance in a World Cup final, Aravinda de Silva took two catches and snaffled three wickets to restrict Mark Taylor’s Australia to 241 in Lahore. Alongside Asanka Gurusinha’s measured half-century, de Silva struck a masterful 107 to get Sri Lanka over the line by seven wickets, etching a fifth name onto the World Cup trophy.

    1999: Warne blows
    Pakistan away

    In the World Cup win that sparked an era of one-day dominance, Shane Warne spun Australia to a comprehensive defeat of Pakistan at Lord’s. The 1992 winners were bowled out for 132 as Glenn McGrath, Tom Moody and Warne strangled Wasim Akram’s men. Adam Gilchrist’s belligerence saw them over the line with eight wickets in hand.

    2003: Australia go

    Australia secure successive World Cup wins with a contrasting but equally emphatic victory over India at the Wanderers. They smote 359 from their 50 overs – then their second highest-ever score in the format – with Ricky Ponting and Damien Martyn sharing a partnership of 234 runs, another national record. India got nowhere near, dismissed for 234.

    2007: Gilchrist goes big

    A rain-reduced repeat of the 1996 showpiece was dominated by Gilchrist, whose 149 remains the highest-ever score in a World Cup final. Australia’s threepeat was never in doubt after Kumar Sangakkara and Sanath Jayasuriya were dismissed chasing 281, extending the winning streak of their one-day dynasty to 29 games.

    2011: Dhoni does it for India

    India’s World Cup win on home soil remains one of the most significant moments in the game’s recent history, sparking scenes of jubilation not seen since. Mahela Jayawardene scored the sixth hundred in a World Cup final but ended on the losing side – largely due to Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s perfectly-timed 91 in the chase and 97 from Gautam Gambhir.

    2015: Australia romp home

    Australia claimed a fourth win in five tournaments in front of a near-six figure crowd at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. It was a final triumph to stand alongside any of their previous efforts as a relentless bowling performance saw them dismiss.

    Last modified on Sunday, 14 July 2019 11:39

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