The World Cup 2019 got a befitting end, with the viewers being treated to an edge of the seat thriller in the final. The game found very little to distinguish between the two sides, as both England and New Zealand put their best foot forward. After a tied game and a tied super-over, the boundary count finally declared England the world champions.
Batting forms an integral department of a team's composition, especially in tournaments like the World Cup. Runs on the board always add to the pressure on the opposition, and it takes a solid batting performance to put this pressure . Chasing is considered to be an art, as the batsmen have to diligent about the required rate, wickets in hand. the bowlers to be targeted, and the scoring strategy.
It is an immense pleasure to witness immaculate technique and pristine timing, and such performances in the World Cup exponentially increase their worth.
This edition was a fantastic one for the batsmen, with the likes of Rohit Sharma, David Warner, Joe Root, Kane Williamson and Shakib Al Hasan standing out. It was the first occasion that three batsmen (Rohit, Warner, and Shakib) crossed the 600 mark in the same edition of the tournament. While there were many brilliant innings, there were some knocks that stood out. Let's have a look at them.
#6 Nathan Coulter-Nile - 92 vs West Indies
Australia took on West Indies at Nottingham in their second game of the World Cup. The Aussies were surprisingly invited to bat first by West Indies on a venue that has been a batting paradise of late.
However, the Caribbean bowlers proved their captain's decision right, as they sent half the Australian side back into the pavilion inside 80 runs. The bowlers were at their savage best, peppering short balls with great precision to the Australian batsmen. After 15 more overs, vice captain Alex Carey was dismissed, leaving the defending champions staring at danger.
It was then that Nathan Coulter-Nile walked in to bat, with him and Steve Smith being the last recognised batting pair for Australia. Coulter-Nile came out all guns blazing at the Windies bowlers, taking the attack back to them. He scored at a brisk pace, allowing Steve Smith to play the anchor. He was diligent in his attack, and focused on rotation of strike along with the big shots.
The all-rounder continued his carnage even after the dismissal of Smith and took Australia to a safe total of 288. He scored 92 invaluable runs of just 60 balls, a mind-boggling effort by a lower-order batsman. His broke the record of the highest World Cup score by a No. 8 batsman with this innings.
Also read – World cup winners list
#5 Kane Williamson - 106* vs South Africa
New Zealand locked horns with South Africa in a rain-curtailed 49-over encounter at Birmingham. After winning the toss, captain Kane Williamson opted to bowl first. This turned out to be a good decision, as the Kiwi bowlers restricted the Proteas to 241-6.
New Zealand lost opener, Colin Munro, early, and when the innings was in a recovery phase, there was a mini-collapse, with Chris Morris running through the middle order of New Zealand. With 5 down and 105 runs still needed for victory, Williamson was the only ray of hope for the Kiwis.
Though Williamson also faced challenges from the South African bowlers, he refused to give up. He started rebuilding the innings with Colin de Grandhomme, with both the batsmen adopting contrary approaches.
The 28-year-old exhibited his immaculate batsmanship in the midst of some great bowling by the South Africans. He held things together for New Zealand, and switched gears brilliantly in the slog overs, taking the Kiwis home with a four and six, followed by another boundary, off three consecutive deliveries he faced.
Williamson scored a heroic 106*, and was adjudged the Man of the Match for his match winning knock.
#4 Rohit Sharma - 122* vs South Africa
India locked horns with South Africa at Southampton in their inaugural encounter of World Cup 2019. Losing the toss, India were asked to field first. The Indian bowlers did a good job, restricting the Proteas to 227/9 in their 50 overs.
India did not get the best of starts, as they lost opener Shikhar Dhawan and talisman Virat Kohli inside the first 16 overs, with still more than 150 runs needed. The middle order stood exposed, which had been the Achilles' Heel for India since the past 2 years. India banked upon Rohit Sharma to deliver the goods.
Rohit personally, too, did not have the best of starts, facing some serious challenges from the Protea bowlers. He even edged one of the balls, but was fortunate to be dropped by Faf du Plessis.
However, Rohit gathered all his strength and took the responsibility on his shoulders post the dismissals of the fellow top order batsmen. He adopted an approach contrary to his natural one, playing a good number of dot balls to settle in. He kept rotating the strike and hit occasional boundaries to keep the score board ticking.
The Indian vice captain stitched an 85-run partnership with KL Rahul and another 74-run partnership with MS Dhoni. In the process, he brought his century, and stayed unbeaten at 122 from 144 balls.
#3 Ravindra Jadeja - 77 vs New Zealand (Semi-final 1)
Ravindra Jadeja was the 'super sub' of India in the initial stages of the tournament, making a great impact with his fielding. He managed to break into the playing XI towards the business end of the tournament and was entrusted in the crucial semi-final match against New Zealand.
Jadeja walked in to bat at a precarious situation of 92-6, with 148 runs still needed for victory. When it seemed that the Indian challenge had come to an end, Jadeja took the attack back to the opposition. After getting an eye in, he started attacking all the Kiwi bowlers. He proved to be the much-needed catalyst to the scoreboard and allowed MS Dhoni to hold one end with a steady approach.
The southpaw took calculative risks, hitting shots as per the field placements, unlike the middle order batsmen. He scored a brisk 77 off 59 balls, with four boundaries and sixes apiece. Jadeja ultimately lost his wicket to Trent Boult, in a bid to accelerate the innings, with the equation of 32 runs off 15 balls. Though he could not take India across the line, he played a stoic knock and gave the Kiwis a massive run for their money.
#2 Carlos Brathwaite - 103 vs New Zealand
West Indies locked horns with New Zealand at Manchester in pursuit of their second win in the tournament. Opting to ball first, West Indies were put in for a big chase of 292, courtesy a brilliant knock from Kane Williamson.
West Indies got off to the worst of starts, as they lost two wickets in the powerplay for 20 runs. After a 122-run partnership between Chris Gayle and Shimron Hetmyer, there was a dismal collapse, as the Caribbeans lost 5 wickets for just 22 runs. They still required 128 runs for victory, and with Carlos Brathwaite being the last recognised batsman, no one fancied West Indies' chances.
It was then that Brathwaite got the building blocks of the chase together, targeting the all-rounders Mitchell Santner, Colin de Grandhomme and Jimmy Neesham. After releasing the pressure of the run rate, he calmly played out the overs of Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson. Though Windies lost two more wickets, it did not affect his tempo in any way.
Brathwaite unleashed himself against Matt Henry, with the equation being 32 off 18. He hit three sixes and a four in that over, scoring 25 runs in total. The all-rounder brought up his hundred in the penultimate over. Just when it seemed to be Windies' game, Brathwaite, in an attempt to clear the boundary for the umpteenth time, found Boult on the boundary line.
Though he could not steer his team to victory, this was arguably the best ton of the tournament.
#1 Ben Stokes - 84* and 8* (Super Over) vs New Zealand (Final)
The best batting performance of the tournament was neither a big hundred, nor an explosive knock. It was a nerve-wracking innings, with an optimum blend of all elements - strike rotation, big shots, and a bit of luck. Cometh the hour, cometh the man; it was Ben Stokes who stood up when it mattered the most for England, showcasing his talent, technique, temperament and tenacity at the biggest stage of cricket.
England needed 242 runs to be crowned world champions for the first time. While they had a steady start, the English side was reduced to 86-4 at one point, and New Zealand threatened to repeat their heroics of the semi final. However, there was one man who stood between them and the crown of cricket. That man was Stokes.
Stokes got off to a slow start, as one more wicket at that point of time could have sealed the match for the Kiwis. He kept the scoreboard ticking without taking any risks, and allowed Jos Buttler to play the attacking strokes.
Post the dismissal of Buttler, he kept batting with the same rhythm, ensuring that at least one boundary per over. Although Stokes had his share of luck in the missed catch and overthrow, he held his nerve brilliantly to tie the match for England. The southpaw scored a superb 84-run knock off 98 balls, with 5 fours and 2 sixes and stayed unbeaten.
Stokes came back for England in the super over, and scored 8 more runs off t balls, which eventually proved crucial in the context of the game.