England wins maiden World Cup after Super Over thriller

The match was tied, Super Over too was tied but England won its maiden World Cup title on boundary count.

England beat New Zealand in a dramatic finale to clinch its maiden World title.

This wasn’t a final for the faint-hearted. It was the kind that threatened nails, fastened hearts and quadrupled pure pressure and left both players and fans gob-smacked.

New Zealand scored 241 for eight, England, after thriving on Ben Stokes (84 n.o.), was bowled out for 241. The World Cup’s summit clash was tied and a super over was needed to break the stalemate at Lord's.

As a tense Sunday evening waned, England scored 15 with Stokes and Jos Buttler having a biff against Trent Boult. And guess what? New Zealand replied with 15 too with James Neesham clouting a six off Jofra Archer in a mad over that ended once Martin Guptill got run-out while going for the winning  run. Yet, England prevailed as it had more boundaries (26) than what New Zealand (17) scored through the pulsating contest. 

Scorecard | As it happened

England champions, New Zealand runners-up by a hair's breadth. This was a game for the ages, it was a glorious amalgamation of thrills, heart-break and tears, both from joy and soul-numbing grief.

In the afternoon, on a pitch that wasn’t a featherbed, England needed its powerful openers Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow to lay the base. Nervous energy rippled as of his very first ball, Boult rapped Roy’s pad. The lbw claim never materialised but Boult and Matt Henry kept luring tentative willows. One such endeavour from Henry forced Roy to nibble and England lost its marauder.   

Bairstow, though, had the measure of Boult and Colin de Grandhomme dropped the burly opener on 18, failing to latch onto a stinging chance in his follow-through. The seamer, however, made amends in an oblique way by finding the edge of Joe Root’s bat. Bairstow soldiered on until he chopped Lockie Ferguson onto his stumps.

England moved to 73 for three in 20 overs and its captain Eoin Morgan kept dancing down to unsettle the bowlers. Something had to crack and it did when Morgan tried to pound James Neesham on the off-side. Ferguson ran in from sweeper cover, his eyes like those of a big cat’s, firmly on the prey. The ball dipped, Ferguson leapt forward and caught inches off the grass.

World Cup final: The first Super Over ends in a tie too!

New Zealand was a wee-bit ahead when Buttler joined forces with Stokes. Buttler (59) stayed calm, guided Stokes and a partnership struck roots. The duo played percentage cricket, defending well, striking hard when the opportunity arose and at times the umpires were threatened with decapitation as some shots whizzed across quivering hats.

It boiled down to 72 from 10 overs and Buttler with his scoops and stunning square-drives was in ominous form. But big games inflict bigger score-board pressure and in trying to free his arm against Ferguson (three for 50), Buttler couldn’t hoodwink Tim Southee on the fence. The  110-run (133b) fifth-wicket partnership had concluded but Stokes had other ideas. He picked his spots on the mid-wicket fence and it trickled to 15 from the last six.

Boult steamed in, Stokes not trusting a wilting tail, played two dot balls, the third he smote for six, the next he got a bonus six (ran two and an over-thrown four), off  the fifth ball Adil Rashid was run out but a run was eked and the final yardstick was two from one. Stokes creamed it to long-off, Neesham fielded, rifled in a throw and Mark Wood was left stranded. By then one run was completed. The scores level at 241 and it was time for a super over. 

Earlier, the day stirred awake to a drizzle’s whisper and inside the ground, Kane Williamson opted to bat and after a 15-minute delayed start, Guptill attempted a mighty swipe off a wide bowled by Chris Woakes.

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Guptill soon punched a four off Woakes, survived a few close-calls and slashed and drilled for a six and four off Archer. However, Woakes (three for 37) nailed Guptill plumb in front and a needless review was taken and lost.

Next man Williamson gingerly settled while there was swing in the air. While Williamson tided past muffled lbw appeals, Henry Nicholls (55) flicked and pulled Liam Plunkett and a 74-run second-wicket partnership took shape. Just as stability seeped in, Plunkett (three for 42) prised out Williamson and Nicholls.

At 118 for three in the 27th over, New Zealand needed Ross Taylor to drop anchor and he nearly did until Wood secured an lbw. Later, it came to light that the ball was missing the citadel but with Guptill having wasted a review, no life-line existed.

Morgan’s men choked their rivals in a 15-over phase and southpaws Neesham and Tom Latham (47) broke the dry spell while Stokes and Plunkett felt the heat. The last-named scalped Neesham and as the innings ebbed away, the highlights were Archer’s three wides, Latham’s six off Wood and three dismissals but New Zealand seemed to have had just about enough to test the home team. It did, just that the climax was a tie which underwent a metamorphosis through the super over.