In the most dramatic of world cup finals, Ben Stokes touched immortality in single handed bravery stoking England out of the darkest of perils of imminent defeat to the long elusive world cup at Lords yesterday.
England’s 43-year long magical dream came true on Stokes’ unconquered bravery in a 84-run knock off 98 balls of calculated batting as England tied with New Zealand on 241 runs each to win on the most number of boundaries scored after both sides again tied in the super over with 15 runs each.
England would have got there a little earlier had Stokes managed the 2 runs required off the last ball of the 50th over as Trent Boult’s well measured delivery yielded just the single.
Stokes was to return to continue set up that ultimate triumph. Pairing with Jos Butler England made 15 off it. New Zealand’s dream was over when Martin Guptil was run out off the last ball going for the decisive second run off the super over bowled by Jofra Archer.
England had to fight their way back from a shaky 86 for 4 off 23.1 overs, thanks to Ben Stokes and Jos Butler’s resilient 110-run fifth wicket alliance. It was seesawing drama of clinical cricket with New Zealand unrelenting to the end with speedsters Henry, Ferguson, Grandhomme and Neeshan cleaning up England’s top four of Jason Roy (17), Johnny Bairstow, (36), Joe Root (07) and skipper Eoin Morgan (9) respectively. Butler was dismissed to arguably the catch of the tournament off Lockie Ferguson by a diving substitute fielder Tim Southee who covered lots of ground crisscrossing his way. Bridging a deficit of 24 runs needing 89 from 65 balls to 24 from 12, 15 from 7 and 15 from 6 balls to the nerve gripping of 15 from 4 to slog sweeping Trent Boult for 6, 2 and 4 from an overthrow, 1 and 1 tying the scores on 241 going into a super over! England 241 for 9 overs to New Zealand’s 241, and the hero returned with Jos Butler posting 15 off the super over bowled by Boult. The England super over: Stokes 3, Butler 1, Stokes 4, 1, Butler 2, 4 England 15.
When New Zealand got off with a wide bowled by Jofra Archer and Neeshan wipped the next delivery for 2, 6, 2 and 1 it looked the cup had once again slipped off England’s grasp. It boiled down to 3 off 2 and 2 off the last delivery faced by Guptil to decide the destiny of the world cup. Archer, who had taken some stick, held his nerve to deliver a Yorker which Guptil stroked to the leg side and attempting the second run was beaten by the throw by Jason Roy as an alert Butler who collected the ball yards in front of the wicket threw himself forward to take off the bails one handed.
New Zealand’s innings on winning the toss and taking first lease revolved around a top score of 55 by H.M. Nicholls with the next best of 47 by Latham followed by skipper Kane Williamson’s 30 as Chris Woakes (3 for 37) and Liam Plunkett (3 for 42) were outstanding with the ball.
New Zealand 241/8 (50 Overs) (Nicholls 55, Woakes 3/37)
England 241 (Stokes 84 n.o., Buttler 59, Neesham 3/43, Ferguson 3/50)
Super over England 15 beat New Zealand 15 on boundaries scored
By Srian Obeyesekere
-The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sri Lanka Cricket-