England’s bowlers gave the hosts a real chance of lifting their first-ever World Cup trophy with a superb performance at Lord’s on Sunday morning.
With a blanket of grey clouds hovering over the famed old ground after play was delayed by 15 minutes due to some summer rain, Chris Woakes and Jofra Archer set the tone upfront.
The duo – destroyers of Australia in the semi-final earlier the week – were relentless in hitting their lengths and lines from the outset. Both New Zealand openers Henry Nicholls and Martin Guptill required the assistance of television reviews to survive vociferous appeals, but Guptill was not so fortunate later on when Woakes wrapped him on the pads again.
Guptill departed for 19, but the loss of the review would prove equally crucial later on when senior batsman Ross Taylor (15) was adjudged LBW by South African umpire Marais Erasmus with replays showing the ball to be bouncing over the stumps.
In the intervening period Nicholls and captain Kane Williamson attempted to absorb the pressure exerted by the England bowling unit, content to occupy the crease instead of pushing the accelerator down.
England, though, were equally patient as they stuck by their plan, offering Williamson no freebies during the first 20 balls he faced. In fact, the Black Caps skipper managed just two off his initial 13 deliveries.
The pair took the total to 103 – a 74-run partnership in 16.2 overs – but just when they were preparing to accelerate the scoring rate, England’s chief wicket-taker during the middle-overs, Liam Plunkett, struck a killer blow for the Black Caps.
Umpire Kumar Dharmasena did not hear the faint outside edge off Williamson’s bat, but England sent the decision upstairs and were rewarded when the scoreboard read: OUT!
Lord’s erupted for that was the wicket all of England had been craving, and Williamson was forced to trudge back to the pavilion for 30 off 53 balls.
Nicholls (55) attempted to keep it going with a half-century of 71 balls, but he too fell shortly afterwards to a Plunkett (3/42) cross-seam delivery.
The Kiwi innings drifted for the remaining overs, especially after Taylor’s misfortune, with only wicket-keeper/batsman Tom Latham offering any form of resistance with 47 off 56 balls.
England continued to squeeze with Woakes (3/47) picking up a further two scalps before Archer (1/42) was rewarded for his consistency with a wicket at the back-end of the innings.
It is now up to the England’s batsmen to finish the job.
New Zealand: 241/8 (Nicholls 55, Woakes 3/37, Plunkett 3/42)