New Zealand once again put up what felt like an under-par score under overcast conditions to post 241/8 against a quality England pace attack that kept on asking probing questions in the World Cup final at the Lord’s on Sunday.
Henry Nicholls (55 off 77 balls) and skipper Kane Williamson (30 off 53 balls) added 74 runs for the second wicket after a fabulous first spell from Chris Woakes (3/37 in 9 overs) and Jofra Archer (1/42 in 10 overs) on a helpful Lord’s track.
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While Woakes had the best figures statistically, it was Liam Plunkett (3/42 in 10 overs), who used the cross-seam variations effectively to stop the Black Caps on their tracks.
Only Tom Latham (47 off 56 balls) contributed in the middle overs in another mediocre effort from the New Zealanders on the big day.
Martin Guptill (19 off 18 balls) had started on a positive note but after surviving a caught behind appeal off Archer, he wasn’t lucky the second time when Woakes got one to slightly shape in and he was caught plumb in-front.
Williamson and Nicholls, just like the India game, were trying to preserve their wicket with occasional boundaries. They were steady during their 16.2 over stand without being spectacular.
It was Plunkett, who got the all important wicket of Williamson when the New Zealand skipper tried to play away from his body and the nick was snapped by Buttler.
Plunkett then removed another set batsman Nicholls with a cross seam delivery that had the left-hander playing on while shaping up for a big shot.
After it became 118/3 from a comfortable 103/1, New Zealand could never effectively force the pace.
The England bowling had variations of every type as Archer hurled it full and fast on the blockhole, Plunkett bowled back of the length and Woakes, who used his slower variations in the final overs, made life difficult for the New Zealand batsmen.
Only once in World Cup history a total of 241 or lower has been defended and New Zealand will haveto pull off an effort similar to India’s famous performance in 1983.