Sunday’s final saw a tie, as both sides finished with 241 runs, before the Super Over, the first-ever played in ODIs, also ended in a tie. England, however, took the title on the basis that they had scored more boundaries during the game.
It was an exciting end to an excellent tournament, which ended with England bringing home their first title, four years after they were humiliated in Australia. In the years since, they have revolutionized the way they play white-ball cricket, and it has most certainly paid off.
There was disappointment for some, however. Pakistan and the West Indies were both dumped out in the group stage after putting in some poor performances, despite some impressive individual showings.
For India and Australia, both will have expected more from the tournament, particularly after finishing first and second in the group stage respectively. Instead, both were knocked out having put in below-par performances in their semi-finals.
But the World Cup was eventually decided by a few key moments during the competition. Here are the five defining moments over the course of the tournament.
#1 Boult denies Brathwaite rescue effort
It was a memorable campaign for New Zealand, who reached the final for the second time in succession, and were desperately unfortunate to lose out to England at Lord’s.
During the group stage, they had a number of tight games, with one of the best coming against the West Indies at Old Trafford. It looked like the game was going New Zealand’s way, and quite comfortably, in the second innings, when chasing 292 to win, West Indies found themselves reduced to 164-7.
Yet, the West Indies hit back. Carlos Brathwaite, a man who has been weighed down by expectation since his heroics against England in the 2016 World Twenty20, played one of the innings of the tournament, forming partnerships with Kemar Roach, Sheldon Cottrell and Oshane Thomas. He went on to register his first ODI hundred in the penultimate over, leaving his side just six runs short of the target.
Attempting to win the game with a single blow, he clubbed Jimmy Neesham over mid-wicket, only to be caught by Trent Boult on the boundary. Had it carried over the rope, the Windies would have still had a chance of qualifying, and New Zealand may have fallen short of the top four.
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#2 Roy returns for England
In the four years since the last World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, England have built a totally new one-day side, and there have been some vital components added.
One of them has been Jason Roy, whose partnership with Jonny Bairstow at the top of the order has been crucial to the success England have had over the past 12 months. Following a hamstring injury he picked up against the West Indies, Roy missed England’s games against Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and Australia, two of which they lost.
James Vince came into the side, and simply couldn’t cut it at the international level, as his poor form caused confusion amongst his teammates.
When Roy returned to the side for the must-win game against India, he was in fine touch, and hammered the bowling attack to all parts. He freed up the players around him in the games against New Zealand and Australia, and without him, it seems unlikely that England would have made the final four.
#3 Guptill runs out Dhoni at Old Trafford
In the first semi-final, it appeared that New Zealand had posted a below-par total of 239, with fifties from Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor just about getting them there. They made a quite brilliant start with the ball though, with Trent Boult and Matt Henry dismantling India’s top order in the early overs.
Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, and KL Rahul were all dismissed for one, as they finished the powerplay on 24-4.
A superb 77 off just 59 balls from Ravindra Jadeja, playing in just his second game of the tournament, bought India back into contention, but when he fell, India needed 32 from 13 balls.
MS Dhoni, who had had a lackluster tournament at best, was their last hope at the other end, yet he was gone only three balls later attempting to steal a second run. He was caught short of his crease by Martin Guptill’s arrowed throw from the edge of the 30-yard circle. That was the final nail in the coffin for India, who eventually finished 18 runs short.
#4 Archer removes Finch first ball
In their group stage game with Australia, England were hammered by 64 runs at Lord’s. Much of the damage was done by the Aussie openers, who put on a partnership of 123, with Aaron Finch scoring a hundred.
When Australia won the toss at Edgbaston in the semi-final and chose to have a bat, there will have been one or two in the England dressing room who were worried about a similar performance.
It was the complete opposite for Finch though, as he was dismissed first ball by a quite superb Jofra Archer inswinger. It was the start of a top-order collapse for Australia, as they were reduced to 14-3, and eventually limped to 223 all out.
It was never going to be enough though, and England chased the total down with over 17 overs to spare, with Jason Roy brutally smashing 85.
#5 Stokes deflects Guptill’s throw for six
So, on to the final, and despite all the talk surrounding 400-plus scores pre-tournament, it was another low-scoring, tight affair. Having won the toss and chosen to bat, New Zealand posted 241, with crucial runs coming from Henry Nicholls and Tom Latham. This time, a low total proved tough for England to chase, and regular wickets for New Zealand meant the hosts found themselves 86-4.
Not for the first time in the tournament, Ben Stokes came to the rescue, and his impressive partnership with Jos Buttler bought England back into contention. However, with Buttler gone, and wickets tumbling at the other end, it was left all to Stokes, with 15 runs needed off four balls.
He slog-swept Trent Boult’s next delivery for six, but it was what happened on the subsequent ball that had everybody talking.
Stokes forced the delivery into the leg side, and in coming back for two, Martin Guptill’s throw hit the all-rounder’s bat and ran away for four. The umpire signaled six, though it has since been suggested it should have only been five. But it was enough to take England to a Super Over, resulting in their first-ever World Cup victory.