World Cup awaits new winners as England, New Zealand face off in final
Cricket’s men’s World Cup trophy will sparkle with the names of new champions after the final at Lord’s on Sunday.
England and New Zealand will meet in the 48th and last match of the six-and-half week tournament.
The teams have been to four finals between them but neither have won the title.
England were last in the decider in 1992, when they lost to Pakistan, and New Zealand in the 2015 edition of the white-ball game’s global showpiece, when Australia won.
“It’s a culmination of four years of hard work, dedication, a lot of planning and it presents a huge opportunity to go on and try and win a World Cup,” England captain Eoin Morgan said.
“The support we’ve had throughout has been unquestionable and that makes you feel extremely lucky to be part of a team that has that sort of support.”
To get this far, the teams had to beat illustrious opponents.
India were favourites going into the tournament, a status unchallenged until New Zealand defended a target of 240 in their semi-final at Old Trafford.
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In the other semi, at Edgbaston, England overwhelmed five-time champions Australia, beating them by eight wickets with 107 balls to spare.
Sunday’s match will pit England’s juggernaut batting line-up against New Zealand’s gun attack.
England own the tournament’s two highest totals — 397/6 against Afghanistan at Old Trafford and 386/6 against Bangladesh in Cardiff — and have passed 300 six times in their 10 matches.
Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root and Jason Roy have combined to score five centuries, while Kane Williamson’s two tons are New Zealand’s only hundreds.
Twenty-seven totals have been higher than New Zealand’s best effort, the 291/8 they made against West Indies at Old Trafford, and they are the only one of the 10 original sides who have not reached 300.
But only once in this World Cup have a team made 250 or more batting first against the Kiwis.
It only adds to Sunday’s narrative that the side who hold that distinction are England, who totalled 305/8 at the Riverside and won by 119 runs.
Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult and Matt Henry make New Zealand the only team with three bowlers among the top 13 wicket-takers.
But England’s Jofra Archer, who has struck 19 times, has more wickets than any of them.
The beaten semi-finalists were the top two teams after the league stage with seven wins each.
Sunday’s protagonists have each lost three times, with England winning six games and New Zealand five.
That makes the Kiwis underdogs, a stature they are only too happy to accept.
“A lot of people say that on a number of occasions, which is great and I think England deserve to be favourites,” Williamson, their captain, said.
“Coming into this tournament from the start, they were favourites and they’ve been playing really good cricket.
“But whatever dog we are, it’s important that we focus on the cricket that we want to play.
“We have seen over the years that anybody can beat anybody — regardless of breed of dog.”