By Ashutosh Mishra
Bhubaneswar: England are the new champions of world cricket. But New Zealand are no less the champions for the way they played. They won hearts. It was a cracker of a match, a fitting finale to a grand tournament. Ultimately it was cricket that won.
Such climaxes are rare. With the match tied the game went into super over. It was edge of the seat excitement with the hearts of many of those watching the proceedings at the historic Lord’s in their mouths as England pacer, Jofra Archer ran in to bowl that last delivery to Martin Guptill with New Zealand needing just two runs to win. Guptill clipped it towards mid-wicket and took the first one easily but was run out trying to take the second. Scores in the super over were also tied but rules gave England the crown as they had scored more boundaries in the game.
Sports can be cruel. The outcome broke the hearts of Kiwis who will have to wait for another four years to have a shy at the world’s coveted cricket trophy. England, the pre-tournament favourites, had also waited for this moment all their lives. But there could be only one winner.
New Zealand, who had reached the finals after stunning India in Manchester, had also faltered at the last hurdle in 2015 losing out to Australia but that was largely a one-sided encounter. This one, a case of so near yet so far, is going to hurt. One could easily sympathise with the New Zealand captain, Kane Williamson who, like his teammates, felt devastated by the final outcome.
But it was a great game of cricket, one which kept spectators glued to their seats till the very end. Cricket, in fact, would be richer with more such matches being played. They guarantee great entertainment and hence the crowds. The popularity of limited overs cricket is bound to grow with more such encounters.
This world cup also has been a great learning curve for India despite their heart breaking semi final exit. The much vaunted Indian top order came unstuck in the semi finals but then Ravindra Jadeja played the innings of his life and had he survived a few more overs Lords would perhaps have seen an India versus England final.
With that brilliant knock of his Jadeja silenced many of his critics, the most bitter of them being Sanjay Manjrekar who, having called Jaddu a bits and parts player, was forced to eat crow. The innings also seems to have sealed Jadeja’s place in India’s limited overs squad for some time to come.
Much has been written by former skipper and ace stumper, Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s dwindling finishing abilities. Speculation over his retirement also refuses to die. The veteran’s magic is, no doubt, on the wane. With age his reflexes appear to have slowed down. You cannot expect Dhoni to finish matches with the same old flourish. But he still has some cricket left him. We should leave it to him to take a call on his career.
(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)