LONDON — It was the mother of all thrillers, a heart-stopping drama so intense that you could feel the hallowed pavilions at the Lord’s tremor in agitation. England won the World Cup by the faintest possible margin – the number of boundaries hit by the two teams. England had 26 against 17 by New Zealand.

The drama which unfolded here on Sunday has no parallels in cricket, and surely very few in any other sport too.

The match ended in a tie after both teams had batted their 50 overs – New Zealand getting 241/8 and England responding with 241. The Super Over, in operation for the first time in a World Cup final, also finished on a tie, both teams scoring 15 each, which led to the count of boundaries.

New Zealand needed two off the last ball of the Super Over being bowled by Jofra Archer. Martin Guptill pushed the ball towards mid-wicket and took off for two. But the throw from Jason Roy was good and Jos Buttler broke the stumps with Guptill well short to ignite unprecedented frenzy at the Lord’s.

It was a stroke of luck which helped England tie the score. Needing 15 in the final over, Stokes smote a six off the third ball to make it nine off three. Off the next ball, Stokes sent it deep into the mid-wicket region where Guptill fielded and threw it towards the wicketkeeper’s end. The throw hit the toe of Stokes’ outstretched bat and scooted towards the boundary for four overthrows.

For most of the last hour or so, Lord’s was on the edge of the seat. It was such unbelievable stuff. England’s hero was Stokes whose knock of 84 and his 110-run fifth-wicket stand with Jos Buttler (59 off 60 balls) brought England back into the game. The two crisis men have pulled the team out of a morass on numerous occasion and did it again on the big stage on Sunday.

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England captain Eoin Morgan had on Saturday predicted that the final at Lord’s was going to be a scrappy battle. It turned out to be much more than that. After New Zealand had fought their way to a challenging total on a tricky pitch, the underdogs had England in big trouble before Stokes and Buttler did the rescue act.

The Kiwis did not give anything away and were worthy rivals. It was heartbreaking for them to lose a match like that but they made many more fans with their gritty display.

New Zealand, very competent at making the best of their resources, had to fight tooth and nail to put up some kind of a total on the board. What they managed was thanks to small, perky contributions from several of their batsmen who had to weather an accomplished bowling and fielding performance from the hosts.

Henry Nicholls (55), Kane Williamson (30) and Tom Latham (47) put their hands up for the team. But the Kiwis kept losing wickets every now and then. The biggest partnership of the innings was worth 74, between Nicholls and Williamson for the second wicket. Beyond that, there were several promising stands but nothing more. The combination of a tricky wicket and quality bowling meant the batsmen never felt settled.

Kane Williamson’s astonishing luck with the toss continued as he won his eighth in 10 games in this Cup. He promptly chose to bat.

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50TH OVER: England need 15 to win

49.1 Boult to Stokes: No run, digs out a yorker to extra cover
49.2 Boult to Stokes: No run, digs out yet another yorker to covers
49.3 Boult to Stokes: 6 runs, slogs over mid-wicket
49.4 Boult to Stokes: 6 runs, slaps a full toss to mid-wicket, runs two but deflects Guptill throw off his bat for a boundary
49.5 Boult to Stokes: 1 run, run out, hits a yorker to long-off but Santner’s throw takes out his partner Adil Rashid
49.6 Boult to Stokes: 1 run, run out, hits a yorker to long-on but Neesham’s throw runs out Mark Wood.



England innings: 15 runs

0.1 Boult to Stokes: 3 runs, smashes a slower one to backward point, runs three
0.2 Boult to Buttler: 1 run, hits one to deep square leg
0.3 Boult to Stokes: 4 runs, sweeps one for a boundary
0.4 Boult to Stokes: 1 run, slices towards point
0.5 Boult to Buttler: 2 runs, digs one out of block-hole towards cover
0.6 Boult to Buttler: 4 runs, slams a low full-toss to deep square leg

New Zealand innings: 15 runs

1 Wide
0.1 Archer to Neesham: 2 runs, digs it out of the block-hole towards long-off
0.2 Archer to Neesham: 6 runs, slogs one to deep mid-wicket for six
0.3 Archer to Neesham: 2 runs, hits one to deep mid-wicket
0.4 Archer to Neesham: 2 runs, to deep mid-wicket
0.5 Archer to Neesham: 1 run, fails to properly connect a short delivery
0.6 Archer to Guptill: 1 run, plays to deep mid-wicket but fails to complete the second as Buttler dives to knocks the bails off



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