LORD’S, LONDON It took England a significant change in approach and a staggering 27 years to find themselves competing in a World Cup final. Their resurgence post the disappointing exit from the 2015 edition, started with a 3-2 triumph in a high-scoring bilateral one-day international series against the then runners-up New Zealand. On Sunday, they face the same opponents, as they aim to win their first World Cup final after three previously failed attempts in 1979, 1987 and 1992.
Jason Roy’s return to the playing XI has had an instant impact on the Eoin Morgan-led side as they staged a remarkable comeback after back-to-back defeats to Sri Lanka and Australia in the league stage. Their top three have been a match-winning trio, having amassed 1,471 runs between them. The bowling too, led by Chris Woakes’ discipline and Jofra Archer’s intensity has mounted pressure on their opponents on a consistent basis.
New Zealand, with their remarkable win against the league stage table-toppers and favourites India, have given enough evidence of the game’s unpredictable nature, as much as their own. The experienced duo of Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor has been shouldering the responsibility with the bat after frequent failures from the top order. Their bowling attack, powered by the intensity of Lockie Ferguson and Matt Henry and nurtured by the calming and disciplined influence of Trent Boult has been producing match-defining results in the tournament.
Playing their second successive World Cup final, New Zealand will desperately need a strong foundation from their openers to set the game in their favour. Considering the recent form, league stage result and home conditions, England seem to have their noses slightly ahead. However, New Zealand’s ability to excel as a team on big occasions, promise a tough challenge for the hosts.
Martin Guptill (New Zealand): Guptill, the leading run-scorer of the 2015 edition has had a disappointing World Cup campaign so far, but so did Adam Gilchrist in 2007 before his monumental match-winning effort in the finals. The aggressive opener will look to put his recent form aside and produce an innings of similar impact to power his side to a historic result.
Joe Root (England): England’s run machine over the last few years, Joe Root has continued the trend in this World Cup having scored 549 runs in 10 innings so far. Root, who is England’s leading run-scorer against New Zealand in ODIs with 925 runs to his name so far, could well be the torch-bearer of the famed batting line-up in the big final.
The weather on Sunday is expected to be dry, with low clouds gradually clearing to give some sunny spells in afternoon and evening. Both captains would look to bat first considering the ‘scoreboard pressure’ factor in a big game and the recent results at Lord’s.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham (wk), Tom Blundell (wk), Mitchell Santner, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Colin Munro, Ish Sodhi, Henry Nicholls, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Jimmy Neesham
England: Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler (wk), Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, James Vince, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood