It took them 44 years, but England have finally done it. Neither a tied game, nor a spirited New Zealand could stop England from bringing the trophy home at the Lord's on Sunday. It finally took a Super Over for England to be crowned winners of the 2019 World Cup.
Eoin Morgan's boys are the new world champions in the 50-over format of the gentleman's game and the crown couldn't have come at a better place than the historic Lord's, the home of cricket. Ben Stokes will go down in history as one of England's best all-rounders. After all, he managed what even the great Ian Botham failed to achieve in Australia in 1992.
England's Mark Wood being run out off the last-ball of the innings saw the game end in a tie and a Super Over followed. The first-ever Super Over in a World Cup final saw England score 15 runs before the Kiwis also ended on 15, but the hosts won due to more boundaries scored in the game.
Cometh the hour, cometh the men. First it was Jos Buttler who rose to the occasion by hitting a swashbuckling 60-ball 59 and then all-rounder Ben Stokes (84* off 98 balls) took off from where he left to help England win their maiden World Cup title. Their 110-run partnership was the backbone of a well-earned win for the Three Lions.
Chasing New Zealand's score of 241/8, the hosts returned home victorious in front of the jam-packed crowd that would have sore throats walking into office on Monday.
Sadly for New Zealand, it was another case of finishing runners-up after their loss to Australia in the 2015 World Cup final. But this time they competed well and it was a game that had the fans on their toes till Buttler and Stokes took the game away with their calculated power hitting.
Losing Jason Roy (17) early meant that Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow needed to stitch a partnership and while they did try their best, the Kiwi bowlers bowled a tight line to ensure that the scoreboard didn't move as the Englishmen would have liked. Frustration finally seeped in as Root (7 off 30 balls) went for a wild drive outside off to edge one to Tom Latham behind the stumps.
That brought Bairstow and skipper Eoin Morgan together but the duo failed to keep up the tempo and it looked like New Zealand would once again run away with the game as they did in the semifinal against India.
In fact, with Matt Henry dismissing Bairstow (played on for 36) and James Neesham sending back Morgan (9), caught brilliantly Lockie Ferguson, it looked like New Zealand might pull this off.
But Buttler and Stokes knew just when to hit the fifth gear and bring England back into the game. Earlier, winning the toss and batting first in overcast conditions New Zealand scored 241/8 in their 50 overs. The conditions weren't most suited for batting, but the Kiwis did well, especially considering the occasion.
If Henry Nicholls started well at the top with a dogged half-century, Tom Latham made it count at the end with a knock of 47. For England, it was another quality show from Liam Plunkett as he pegged the Kiwis back every time they looked to take the attack to the English bowlers. Plunkett finished with figures of 3/42 from his 10 overs and he was ably supported by Chris Woakes (3/37) and Jofra Archer (1/42).
Earlier, with incessant drizzle delaying the final by 15 minutes, it was a brave decision by Williamson to bat first. And openers Martin Guptill and Nicholls looked to repose the faith shown in them by their skipper as they held fort and looked to play off the new ball. But the partnership was broken in the seventh over when Woakes trapped Martin Guptill (19) plumb in front. While the batsman did go a review, it proved to be a complete waste.
The in-form Williamson joined Nicholls in the middle and it was all about a steady show as the scoreboard read 29/1 as the two looked decently comfortable with the odd delivery moving disconcertingly and causing trouble to the batsmen. They kept rotating the strike by picking the ones and twos before Plunkett struck.
Getting one to move enough after pitching to take the edge of Williamson's bat, Plunkett had the Kiwi skipper caught behind by Jos Buttler. While the onfield umpire -- Kumar Dharmasena -- refused to raise his finger, the Englishmen called for a review and Williamson (30) had to walk back with the score reading 103/2 in the 23rd over.
Nicholls also failed to make much headway after spending quality time in the middle and was dismissed by Plunkett soon after he notched up his fifty. Squeezing in between bat and pad, the ball disturbed the timber as the Englishmen celebrated once again.
New Zealand's semifinal hero Ross Taylor too failed to make it count as he was caught plumb in front by Mark Wood with the score reading 141/4 in the 34th over. Taylor walked back for just 15.
Even as the Kiwi batsmen looked to up the ante, the English bowlers kept striking at the right moments to peg them back. And that was the case when James Neesham looked like he would play a cameo in the middle overs. Just when he started to look in control, Plunkett dismissed him, caught by Joe Root at mid-on.
With the score reading 179/5 after 40 overs, New Zealand needed Tom Latham to stay till the end and guide the innings to a perfect finish. While Latham was dismissed by Woakes in the 49th over, Kiwis still managed to score 62 runs in the last 10 overs.
Brief scores: New Zealand: 241/8 in 50 overs (Henry Nicholls 55, Tom Latham 47; Liam Plunkett 3/42, Woakes 3/37); England: 241 all out in 50 overs (Ben Stokes 84*, Jos Buttler 59; Lockie Ferguson 3/50)
Super Over: England: 15 (Stokes 8*); New Zealand: 15 - BY BAIDURJO BHOSE for IANS