New era beckons as New Zealand, England gun for maiden World Cup glory
Either England or New Zealand are on their way to a maiden World Cup crown. (AFP Image)

LONDON: Two teams, two captains, one prize. The biggest prize. The Cricket World Cup. If on May 30, 2019, people had said that the final of the World Cup 2019 would be between England and New Zealand, they were probably kidding. England, perhaps. But New Zealand? ALSO READ: Will England be fourth time lucky?

At best, people foresaw them reaching the semi-finals, but they’ve managed to surpass that hurdle, beating India, the No. 1 side in the world to reach the final of the pinnacle event, need not forget, for the second year in a row. Few gave them a chance. They have been flying under the radar ever since they arrived, although just when they caught attention by remaining unbeaten after the first six games, Kane Williamson and his men endured three bumps along the way.

But the bottom line is they are here, on the cusp of history, a new dawn, a new beginning. With them is another side that attracted doubters. England went from being World Cup favourites to World Cup hopefuls to favourites again in a matter of one week. What a beating they dished out to Australia – a team that has dominated World Cups.

It was even more special because not too long ago at Lord’s, England had abjectly surrendered. But call it whatever you may – Michael Vaughan’s incinerating comments, the impact of Jason Roy at the top or simply that they have been the most consistent team since 2015 – Eoin Morgan and England are on the verge of banishing the demons of the last 20 years – full of disappointments and heartbreaks.

From the 1999 edition, only two teams have won the World Cup. New Zealand and England knocked both out. Between them, England and New Zealand have just two ICC trophies – the Champions Trophy 2000 and the World T20 2010. What takes the cake is guarantee of a fresh World Cup winner. The games deserves it.

As captains, both Morgan and Williamson have been inspirational, in their own different ways. A win for New Zealand will mean a victory against all odds. A victory for England is one that is long overdue. Just think about the individual battles. Joe Root v Williamson. Jason Roy v Trent Boult. Ross Taylor v Ben Stokes. Jofra Archer v Lockie Ferguson. Remain free and savour the moment.

Two teams full of promise and shades of brilliance, here is New Zealand and England’s opportunity to embed themselves in their rich-cricketing folklore forever.

What: World Cup 2019 Final

When: Sunday, July 14

Where: Lord’s Cricket Ground, London

Time: 330pm IST

Pitch and Conditions

The surface on which the final will be played is what you call a green carpet. There’s a baffling amount of grass. It’s unusual for a World Cup final to unveil a surface, which leads to speculations whether the look is actually threatening or one that is deceiving

Weather: Mostly cloudy with a bit of showers expected early morning

Team News

England

England have no worries at the top. Jonny Bairstow has been declared fit, despite twisting his ankle in the semi-final against Australia. Roy escaped a match ban after expressing displeasure at his dismissal. With a green surface in store, it looks like Moeen Ali will have to sit out yet again. England are expected to go in with a strong pace battery comprising Chris Woakes, Jofra Archer, Mark Wood and Liam Plunkett.

Probable XI: 1 Jason Rot, 2 Jonny Bairstow, 3 Joe Root, 4 Eoin Morgan (capt), 5 Ben Stokes, 6 Jos Buttler (wk), 7 Chris Woakes, 8 Adil Rashid, 9 Jofra Archer, 10 Liam Plunkett, 11 Mark Wood

New Zealand

With Henry Nicholls getting some runs against India, he should retain his place and partner a struggling Martin Guptill at the top. Ish Sodhi had a nice, long run at the nets but the chances of him playing remain dim. Mitchell Santner is expected to be the lone spinner is what promises to remain and unchanged team from the semi-final.

Probable XI: 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Henry Nicholls, 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Tom Latham (wk), 6 James Neesham, 7 Colin de Grandhomme, 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 Lockie Ferguson, 10 Matt Henry, 11 Trent Boult

Stats and Trivia

– England have won seven of their last nine ODIs against New Zealand

– England and New Zealand have met twice before at Lord’s, the Black Caps winning both previous encounters, a five-wicket victory in 2013 and a 51-run triumph in 2008

– The team winning the toss has lost four of the last five World Cup finals

– Archer has bowled more dot balls (338) than any other bowler

– Bairstow (England) needs four more runs to become the seventh player to reach 500 runs at ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019, Jason Roy needs 74 to reach the same milestone

– Ross Taylor (987 runs) and Guptill (976) are both vying to become the second player after Stephen Fleming (1,075) to score 1,000 runs for New Zealand, Williamson requires 119 to reach the same milestone

Quotes

“I haven’t allowed myself to think about lifting the trophy. Cricket and sport in particular is very fickle. If you ever get ahead, it always seems to bite you in the backside, so for us to win it, I think around the country it would be awesome, great for the game” – Eoin Morgan hasn’t envisioned himself lifting the trophy yet

“We’ve sort of spoken a little bit about results and it’s not so much about that, it is not so much about that, it’s not willing the perfect performance, you don’t have to be perfect, but it is about how we want to operate as a side and that’s been the case throughout this tournament – Kane Williamson is more keen on performance than result