World Cup 2019 final: England, New Zealand seek history and bragging rights

first_imgEoin Morgan was watching from the Adelaide Oval dressing room when Rubel Hossain knocked James Anderson’s stumps off the pitch and sent England crashing out of the 2015 World Cup. England’s campaign in Australia was a major disappointment as they bowed out as early as the group stages that was tailor-made for top teams to progress.Cut to 2019, Eoin Morgan is on the cusp of becoming the first-ever captain from England to win the men’s 50-over World title.Eoin Morgan himself conceded that he would not have believed you had you told him that England would play in the final of World Cup 2019 after their performances in Australia 4 years ago.It’s been a massive change — change in personnel, change in the way England and Wales Cricket Board dealt with the domestic structure, change in the selection policies and more importantly change in the senior national side’s approach to the 50-over format.Eoin Morgan’s men have played a brand of 50-over cricket over the last 4 years that has never been associated with English sides in the past– aggressive, full of intent and imposing.Led by Morgan, one of the most astute reads of the game, the young England side has helped reignite the dreams back in the country. “It’s coming home!”England started the tournament as favourites and it is safe to say they have lived up to the billing. The hosts were in danger of getting knocked out early after losses to Sri Lanka and Australia but the way they have fought back from the setbacks speaks volumes about the character of the team.advertisementEngland had to bounce back and they did so in emphatic style by handing India a 31-run in Edgbaston before clinching a comfortable win against their Sunday’s opponents by 119 runs in Chester-le-Street.If there was any doubt about this England side’s ability to handle the big moments, their 8-wicket thrashing of Australia, who had never lost a World Cup semi-final before Thursday, in the semi-final is a testament to their ruthless intent.More than 5 of their batsmen have scored over 350 runs, 2 of their new-ball bowlers are among the top 10 wicket-takers in the tournament. Their openers are firing, all-rounders are chipping in, pacers are hitting the batsman’s bat (helmets) hard and their spinner is bamboozling batsmen in the middle overs. What a time to be an England cricket fan!Can Morgan help extend England’s fairytale into the big final as well? What about the pressure of expectations? Over the years, only 2 teams have won World Cups at home — India in 2011 and Australia in 2015.Chants of “it’s coming home” are a year after they were heard on the streets of London, Manchester, Birmingham et al.Is the support going to be England’s strength or is the burden of expectations going to prove too much to handle in the end?Sunday’s final will be their most important match in more than 2 decades and they face New Zealand, who are World Cup virgins as well despite having made 8 semi-finals in 12 editions.New Zealand, unlike England, scraped through to the final. While England’s demolition of Australia in Edgbaston was a statement in itself, New Zealand’s astute reading of the Manchester pitch and execution of their skills in their 18-run win over Virat Kohli’s India is one as well.Their top-order hasn’t fired. Their middle-order has been inconsistent. However, Williamson and their new-ball bowlers have been on top of their games in England so far.In Kane Williamson, New Zealand have one of the coolest and sharpest minds of the game. It’s not an exaggeration to say the skipper has carried his team on the shoulders single-handedly into the final.Williamson has been their top-scorer, their crisis man, their leader who has never backed down from a fight in World Cup 2019. The soft-spoken Kane has one final fight at the Home of Cricket on Sunday.Can he achieve what Brendon McCullum could not 4 years ago?New Zealand are once again being considered underdogs for the final but as Williamson stresses, regardless of the breed of the dog, you have to play good cricket in the final. New Zealand have been doing so in crunch moments so far. Can they do it one more time?ALSO READ | World Cup 2019 Final: England’s batting might up against New Zealand’s fearsome bowling as history beckonsALSO READ | England vs New Zealand, World Cup head-to-head: Kiwis hold the edge over hosts in final showdownALSO WATCH:last_img

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