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England face day of destiny in World Cup final against New Zealand


Shiraz ShaikhWeb Editor

13th July, 2019
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England will face New Zealand in Sunday’s Cricket World Cup 2019 final at Lord’s. This will be first ever time for either teams to life the trophy.

When England exited the 2015 edition with an embarrassing defeat by Bangladesh, few were tipping them as potential champions in four years’ time.

As England captain Eoin Morgan put it: “If you had offered us the position to play in a final the day after we were knocked out of the 2015 World Cup, I would have laughed at you.”

One person not laughing was Andrew Strauss, the former England director of cricket.

Drafted into the newly created role, Strauss set about an overhaul that saw the former England captain appoint Australia’s Trevor Bayliss as coach, and place greater emphasis on white-ball cricket.

The worth of all that work showed when Morgan’s men, now top of the one-day international rankings, thrashed reigning champions Australia by eight wickets in the semi-final at Edgbaston on Thursday.

Many of the elements that made England the pre-tournament favourites were on show in Birmingham.

Pacemen Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes reduced Australia to 14-3, leg-spinner Adil Rashid took wickets in the middle and the dynamic duo of Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow — statistically the most successful opening pair in ODI history — launched the run chase with a blistering century partnership.

All tournament long, the same comment has been made about New Zealand — they boast a well-balanced attack led by left-arm quick Trent Boult but are over-reliant on captain Kane Williamson and fellow senior batsman Ross Taylor for their runs.

The polite Kiwis have responded by continuing to “scrap”, in the phrase of fast bowler Lockie Ferguson, their way to wins as demonstrated by their dramatic 18-run semi-final victory over India.

Boult and Matt Henry reduced one of the world’s most powerful top orders to 5-3, before left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner, aided by superb fielding, backed them up after Williamson and Taylor had made battling fifties on a tricky pitch.

While many members of the home side were not even born when England made the last of three losing appearances in a World Cup final in 1992, the Black Caps have the experience of their heavy defeat by co-hosts Australia in the climax of the 2015 edition in Melbourne to call on.

“I’d be lying if I said we weren’t a bit overawed by the change of scenery,” said Taylor as he looked back to New Zealand’s first and only match on Australian soil in that tournament.

“I think we know what to expect, the pressures that come with it, we’ve been there before. You just have to enjoy it, it’s the ‘Home of Cricket’, I can’t think of a better place to play a final.”

AFP

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