In one of the most dramatic finishes to an ODI match, let alone a World Cup final, England defeated New Zealand to lift their maiden title. It was an astonishing end to a thoroughly well-played match from both the sides as New Zealand stood at the receiving end of a heartbreaking loss.
Kane Williamson's men didn't fall short by runs, but by the boundary countback rule which would, in a few months, be abolished by the International Cricket Council (ICC). As for England, it was a project which the limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan had envisioned for the past four years. En route, he took various bold decisions which eventually led him and the English side to World Cup glory.
England had defeated Australia, while New Zealand ended India's impressive run in the semifinals of the tournament to set the final showdown at Lord's.
New Zealand had won the toss, electing to bat. It was Liam Plunkett, displaying the knack of picking up key wickets at crucial stages of the game, dismissing Henry Nicholls (55) and Kane Williamson (30) which put England in command. Tom Latham played a crucial role in the end (47) as New Zealand scored 241/8 in 50 overs.
In the chase, England's two poster-boys throughout the World Cup campaign, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler stabilised a seemingly sinking ship as the two forged 112-run partnership after the side lost four wickets within 84 runs. Lockie Ferguson earned the breakthrough for New Zealand, dismissing Buttler on 59 to trigger a lower-order collapse before a dramatic final over led to a first-ever Super Over in the history of the World Cup finals.
— ICC (@ICC) July 14, 2020
A mistimed shot towards deep midwicket from Stokes was followed by Martin Guptill's overthrow being ricocheted off the English all-rounder's bat. Result? Six runs for England. With three needed over the next two deliveries, England faced two successive run-out dismissals, while adding only two more runs to the total. Stokes remained unbeaten on 84.
It was Boult again, and the two poster-boys entered the crease for England, too in the Super Over. They added 15 runs in six deliveries, hitting a four each. Jofra Archer, who had terrorised the batsmen with his searing pace throughout the tournament, was asked to defend 16 runs in the Super Over. With two runs needed to win, it all came down to the final delivery again - this time, the composure of Jason Roy and Jos Buttler put down Martin Guptill as England registered a thrilling win despite a tied game. The final scorecard, according to the boundary countback rule, stood at 26-17 in favour of the hosts.
And so, like many thrilling games such as these, the fans were left to ponder on the what-ifs. What if Martin Guptill had made the crease? What if his throw didn't ricochet off Ben Stokes' bat? What if Dhoni had dived and New Zealand may not have been in the final at all?
It has been quite some time since the final, but Kane Williamson said earlier in May this year that even at this point, it is difficult to make sense of all that transpired in the game. "To determine whether it was a high or a low takes a bit of time. And I'm still trying to work out what it was really. Sometimes it is difficult to make sense of it. You need to accept, which is that it is a part and parcel of life," Williamson had said in an interview with Cricbuzz.
"We didn't get the fruits but upon reflection, it was a pretty spectacular game to be a part of but a really difficult game to understand and get around because you were a part of the game."