It’s difficult to forget how the sea of light blue shirts erupted when England beat New Zealand in the most dramatic way possible at Lord’s in July 2019.
But England’s journey to victory was not straightforward as their World Cup campaign almost came to an end after suffering back-to-back defeats to Sri Lanka and Australia in the round-robin stage.
In two must-win games against India and then New Zealand, England fought back hard to end up in the semi-finals, where they thrashed old rivals Australia, before going on to win the World Cup in extraordinary fashion.
It was the first time there had been a tie in a World Cup final and what better place for it than at the ‘Home of Cricket’, with the crowd singing Sweet Caroline.
As the players’ shadows lengthened over Lord’s, we witnessed one of the most miraculous moments in British sporting history. Here’s how it happened:
Difficulty of the group stage
England got their World Cup campaign off to a solid start after beating South Africa by 104 runs at The Oval, where Ben Stokes completed a incredible one-handed diving catch to dismiss Andile Phehlukwayo on 24.
It was described by Sky Sports Cricket commentator, Naseer Hussain, as “one of the greatest catches of all time.”
However, in their following game Pakistan set England the highest-ever chase in a World Cup. Requiring 349 for victory, the hosts fell to a tight 14-run defeat.
Pakistan’s seamers Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Amir skittled through England’s middle and lower order at the death at Trent Bridge, despite centuries from Joe Root and Jos Buttler.
England recovered well form this encounter and went on to beat the West Indies by eight wickets and Afghanistan by 150 runs, their captain Eoin Morgan smashing a record 17 sixes in the process, but fell to two more heavy losses against Sri Lanka and Australia.
Fast bowler Lasith Malinga inspired Sri Lanka at Headingley as he picked up four wickets to help his side win by 20 runs.
England were favourites in this game and made a strong start by dismissing Sri Lanka’s openers within the first two overs.
Stokes contributed with the bat, adding 82 not out, but was left stranded in the middle as the tailenders fell victim to Sri Lanka’s pacers, with veteran Malinga leading the charge.
Australia further dented England’s hopes for the semi-finals as they defeated them at Lord’s by 64 runs.
Left-arm fast bowler Mitchell Starc bowled an incredible yorker that flattened Ben Stokes’ (89) off-stump, while Jason Behrendorff picked up a maiden ODI five-for, leaving the hosts’ campaign hanging by a thread.
A change of course
Heading into the all-important game against India at Edgbaston, England recovered well from their back-to-back defeats to revive their hopes of reaching the semi-finals.
A superb 111 from Jonny Bairstow, along with 79 from Stokes pulled England to a commanding total of 337-7 from their 50 overs.
After India lost opener KL Rahul for a duck in the third over, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli built a 138-run partnership for the second wicket to give their fans some hope. However, England seamer Liam Plunkett broke up the duo and helped restrict India to 306-5 by taking 3-55.
That took England into a must-win clash against New Zealand at Durham where Bairstow scored a second straight century in blasting 106 off 99 balls to help them clinch a semi-final spot as the Black Caps were bowled out for 186.
Baristow also became the first English batter to score back-to-back World Cup tons.
In search of redemption at Edgbaston, England faced Australia in the semi-final. Armed with paceman Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes, the boys in blue hammered their old foes by eight wickets to reach the final.
Archer picked up a wicket from the very first ball of his set to remove the dangerous Aaron Finch before Alex Carey suffered a blow on the chin from the fast bowler too.
Lifting the trophy
The Lord’s crowd roared the national anthems before the electric atmosphere was silenced by the tension of the final.
Bathed in the sweltering sun, Ben Stokes scored a sensational 84 not out from 98 balls that pulled England from 86-4 and to tie them with New Zealand’s 241-8.
In the last over of the regular match, England required 15 runs and Ben Stokes hit a six before a throw from the deep by New Zealand’s Martin Guptill ricocheted off his bat for four overthrows.
Archer, who only made his ODI debut two months previously, was entrusted to bowl the notorious Super Over. Jimmy Neesham hit Archer’s second ball for six to increase the nerves among the Lord’s crowd.
Needing two off the final delivery, Guptill clipped the ball to deep mid-wicket where Jason Roy collected and a diving Guptill was caught short of his crease, leaving Buttler to whip off the bails as the stands erupted in celebration.
It was joy incapsulated as England huddled together and Lord’s spectators pulsated from adrenaline in what remains as one of the most thrilling finals in cricket, with commentator Ian Smith they had won the World Cup “by the barest of all margins.”
Archer missed the Ashes and the rest of the cricketing summer this year after suffering a recurrence of a stress fracture to his right elbow.
However, the 28-year-old will travel with the England squad to the upcoming World Cup in India as a reserve and continue working on his fitness.
England head to India hoping to defend the 50-over title they won so thrillingly and also add to the T20 World Cup they claimed last year in Australia by beating Pakistan in the final.
Watch the ICC Cricket World Cup live in full on Sky Sports between October 5 and November 19.
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