When you aspire to become a cricketer, you usually have two dreams – one is to play a Test match for your country, and the second is to win the ICC World Cup. The three Royals who featured in the CWC19 final realised that dream and were at the centre of it all. One of them, Jos Buttler, went through the heartbreak England suffered during the 2015 World Cup; he has seen the worst and now has become the best to see the best.
14th July 2019 – a day English cricket fans will cherish forever; a day cricket fans around the world will talk about forever. The day saw what is perhaps the best ODI of all time. It has to beat the 434-438 between Australia & South Africa, the Natwest final between India & England, or for that matter any other memorable game of ODI cricket. The Mecca of Cricket, Lord’s witnessed a double tie, a feat that was only in the rule books until the final between England and New Zealand.
New Zealand were out to defend 241, and they got off to a solid start with some testing bowling. Matt Henry and Trent Boult got the ball in the right areas, and the former got rid of the dangerous Jason Roy. Soon, England were four down.
It was the Rajasthan Royals duo of Stokes & Buttler who stitched a vital partnership to get England back in the game. Both of them scored fifties around the same time, and managed to put up 110 runs between them.
The final few overs during England’s pursuit of 242 was absolute mayhem. England needed 24 runs off the last two overs; 12 balls and it was Stokes who had Plunkett for company. England had 4 wickets left in their tank. While Stokes managed to smash a six on the fourth ball. Boult positioned himself under the dropping ball, but was quite close to the ropes. He had to arch his back backwards, and as he took the catch the momentum of the ball took him in touching distance to the ropes. The catch was clean but his foot wasn’t. Just before Boult threw the ball to Guptill, his foot touched the skirting on the boundary, and it was a very, very valuable six for England. They lost 2 wickets in the over, those of Plunkett and Rajasthan Royals’ Jofra Archer for a duck.
Last over – 15 needed
If you thought the 49th over had all the drama, then you were in store for a few heart-stopping moments in the final over. The first two balls were dots; Stokes decided to keep the strike to himself. He got Lord’s on to its feet with a belligerent shot that went soaring over mid-wicket for a maximum.
9 runs off 3 balls
Half-way through the over, the equation came down to 9 off 3. Nobody envisaged what was about to happen on the following delivery. Stokes drilled the ball towards deep mid-wicket and set off for a couple of runs. Guptill swooped in on the ball and hurled the throw at Stokes’ end. Ben dived full stretch. The ball did find the woodwork, but just not the stumps. The ball ricocheted off Stokes’ bat and trickled away to the boundary. England got 6 runs, two back to back sixes in all.
The equation came down to 3 off 2, and tilted in England’s favour in the space of 2 balls. Stokes hit the fifth ball to long off and Rashid obliged for the second run, getting run out in the process. England managed to add one more to their score, and the equation now read: 2 needed off 1.
England were nine down when the final ball was bowled. Stokes got it into the deep once again. The batsmen ran two, but the throw was on target and Mark Wood was way short. The game was tied and there was only one way left – a Super Over. The fate of the World Cup was going to be decided by two overs, one to be faced by each team.
Stokes & Buttler with the bat; Boult with the ball
Right before the Super Over, there was a tingling feeling that this would go the Rajasthan Royals way. There were no surprises when Ben Stokes walked out with Jos Buttler – the two half-centurions from England’s innings.
Stokes squeezed out three runs off the first ball to get the Super Over going. He then hit a powerful boundary, dragging the ball to the mid-wicket fence. Buttler, who faced the final ball of the over played a very smart shot. He ploughed the ball wide of the deep mid-wicket fielder to send it past the ropes. The Rajasthan Royals pairing notched up 15 runs in the Super Over, and New Zealand had a tough task on their hands.
Archer with the ball; Guptill & Neesham with the bat
We had already seen Jofra warm-up when his other Royal brothers, Jos and Ben were batting. There was very little doubt anyway that he would bowl the Super Over for England. In his last 5 overs of the first innings, Archer kept a tight lid over the Kiwis, conceding just over 4 runs an over.
Archer started with a wide, which must have sent some nerves flying in the English camp. Neesham picked up a couple off the following ball. Like England, New Zealand also had 3 runs in one ball. Neesham sent the second ball towering over deep mid-wicket for a biggie. The game tilted in New Zealand’s favour with that hit, as they needed 7 runs off 4 balls.
Archer conceded a couple of twos off the next two deliveries, before Neesham picked up a single off the fifth to bring Guptill on strike for the final ball. New Zealand needed 2 off the last ball. After plenty of discussions on the field, Archer ran in and bowled the ball that would finally put an end to the CWC19 final.
It was full on Guptill’s pads. He tucked it away to deep mid-wicket, where Roy charged in towards the ball. He collected cleanly (he had misfielded earlier in the Super Over), and threw the ball towards Buttler, who was standing a few feet away from the stumps, near the popping crease. The calm and cool Jos gathered the ball and flung himself towards his left. The stumps broke and so did the hearts of the Kiwis who also had fellow Royal, Ish Sodhi.
Would you believe it? The second innings for England and the Super Over was all about the three Royals who made it all happen for England. This was England’s fourth World Cup final, and the trio kept their nerves, stayed calm under pressure and believed.
England are the first team to have won their maiden World Cup title, at home. All other World Cup winners won their maiden titles away from home. Coincidentally, the World Cup has seen a hat-trick of hosts winning the title at home. It started with India in 2011, Australia in 2015 and now, England.
The three Royals scripted a story that will be passed on to generations. Their performances will be talked about during perhaps every discussion on World Cups. They have given us a Royal memory!