England face New Zealand at Lord’s on Sunday as they look to secure their first ever World Cup victory having dispatched Australia convincingly at Edgbaston in Thursday’s semi-final.
Let’s be honest, it was never meant to be like this as English sporting semi-finals have historically never been happy experiences whatever the sport.
Both the men’s and women’s teams fell at this hurdle in their respective World Cups while the scars of Turin in 1990 and Wembley in 1996 still run deep among Three Lions fans; but this time the heartbreak was all Australian as the hosts confirmed their first World Cup final since 1992 in style.
Chasing a total of just 224 England made light work of Australia’s attack to reach their target with eight wickets and 107 balls to spare and will now have their sights set on a fourth final appearance in this competition which they are yet to win.
The potent opening pair of Jason Roy, whose sensational World Cup campaign continued as he struck 85 off just 65 balls, and Jonny Bairstow, who contributed with 34, once again set England on the way to victory at Edgbaston with a formidable partnership of 124 before Joe Root and Eoin Morgan came together to deliver a combined 79 to take them over the line.
With the ball Adil Rashid and Chris Woakes chipped in with three wickets apiece while some fine fielding from Joshua Butler to dismiss Steve Smith sealed a pretty impressive all round performance by the hosts who went into the World Cup as favourites.
England reached the final of the 1979, 1986 and 1992 World Cups failing to lift the coveted trophy on all three occasions, but will hope that their fearsome batting line-up and lethal bowling attack will finally see them land the biggest prize in one day cricket, but either way a new world champion will be crowned at Lord’s.
On Wednesday New Zealand secured their place at Lord’s as they produced one of the bowling performances of the tournament to edge out India by 18 runs in a sensational rain-affected match at Old Trafford.
India, chasing 240 to win, were reduced to 24-4 and 92-6 before Ravindra Jadeja and MS Dhoni produced a 116-run partnership to drag the 2011 winners back in contention only for Jadeja to get out cheaply before Dhoni was superbly run out by Martin Guptill to realistically end India’s slim chances.
It’s the second consecutive World Cup final appearance for the Black Caps who finished runners-up in 2015 after being defeated by Australia last time out and they will hope that this time round they have what it takes to go one better.
With the likes of Martin Guptill and star of the tournament so far Kane Williamson the Kiwis have a formidable batting line-up while Trent Boult’s exploits with the ball, ably supported by Lockie Ferguson and Matt Henry mean they are capable of defending even the lowest of totals.
And the idea of this bowling attack, at Lord’s, with a slope to help the ball swing, will no doubt cause concern for England however impressive their batting performances have been so far in this World Cup.
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