History will be made at Lords on Sunday when England face New Zealand in the ICC Mens Cricket World Cup final.
After seven weeks and 47 games, only two teams – both yet to lift this coveted trophy – are left standing.
England threatened to become World Cup champions countless times during the tournaments infant years, reaching three finals and two semi-finals in the first five editions.
Ultimate glory has continued to evade them, however, and this is a feeling New Zealand can certainly identify with, having qualified for the final for only the second time in 12 attempts.
One thing is for sure; the World Cup will have a new owner come Sunday evening. Here, Metro.co.uk previews the World Cup final between England and New Zealand.
How have we got here?
For England, Sundays final represents the culmination of four years of hard work.
English one-day cricket reached its nadir in 2015 when a team playing outdated and ultimately poor cricket crashed out of the World Cup at the group stage.
The transformation since that tournament has been stunning. Eoin Morgan, Trevor Bayliss and Andrew Strauss have collaborated to convert England from one-day no-hopers to the best team in the world.
England soared to the top of the ICC rankings but, more significantly, changed the game by breaking record after record and utterly demolishing the majority of their opponents.
And then, as often happens when a World Cup comes around, things began to go awry. Successive defeats to Sri Lanka and Australia left Englands hopes of reaching the semi-finals hanging by a thread.
This is not Englands best-ever one-day team for no reason, however, and they showed quality and resolve in equal measure to defeat New Zealand and India in their final two group games to finish third.
Facing World Cup kings and defending champions Australia in a first semi-final appearance since 1992 could have proved a stumbling block. Not so for this team.
An impressive and clinical eight-wicket win saw the hosts knock their Ashes rivals out and cruise into a first World Cup final in 27 years.
Following the retirement of former captain Brendon McCullum, the key figure of New Zealand cricket over the past decade, many feared for the future of the team.
McCullum spearheaded the Black Caps run to the World Cup final four years ago and his absence left a gaping hole in a team already punching above their weight.
New Zealand, international crickets smallest nation by population, lack the financial might of England, Australia and India, and boast a player pool which is in fact nothing to boast about at all.
Despite co-hosting the 2015 World Cup, they shouldnt have reached the final. Despite possessing Kane Williamson, one of the best batsman in the world and a fine captain, they shouldnt have reached the knockout stages of this tournament. And they certainly shouldnt have beaten India in the semi-final, particularly after setting Indias gun batting line-up a chase of only 239.
And yet here they are, through to a second consecutive World Cup final. Once again being written off and overlooked. Once again aiming to prove everyone wrong.
Where will it be won and lost?
Englands stuttering World Cup campaign was revived by the brilliant Jason Roy.
Sidelined for three consecutive matches due to a hamstring strain, he returned to lift England and score three fifties in must-win games. Another one on Sunday could set the platform for Englands World Cup triumph.
It is not just his runs that have been key for the hosts. The manner in which he has made those runs – and his influence on the rest of the team – is also crucial. Roy and the in-form Jonny Bairstow have now made three 100-run opening partnerships in a row.
Roy was sensational against Australia at Edgbaston, tucking into the record-breaking Mitchell Starc before destroying Australias spinners. He will attempt to do the same tomorrow, against another superb left-armer in Trent Boult.
Boult has been a consistent performer for New Zealand for almost a decade and really turned it on at Old Trafford, combining with Matt Henry to rip through Indias star-studded top-order.
The Kiwis will hope for a similar outcome at Lords and will be buoyed by the success left-arm pair Starc and Jason Behrendorff enjoyed at this venue against England earlier in the tournament.
But if New Zealand are capable of provoking a collapse with the ball, so too are England. Just look at what Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes did against Australia.
New Zealand have endured a curious tournament with the bat. Their openers have struggled – particularly the usually reliable and often destructive Martin Guptill – and Williamson has dug them out of trouble with two hundreds and two fifties.
There is no reason why Williamson cannot produce in the final but the Kiwis will need contributions from other players, perhaps Ross Taylor, in what will inevitably be his final World Cup innings.
With the ball New Zealand can be deadly, but there problems have come with the bat. England, on the other hand, have rediscovered their mojo in both facets.
While Archer, Woakes and Mark Wood have received most of the plaudits this summer, England will also be delighted to see Adil Rashid return to form at just the right time.
The leg-spinner has not been at his best at this World Cup but claimed three wickets in the semi-final win over Australia and could have a huge role to play at Lords, a ground which has not produced huge scores this summer.
How both teams handle the occasion will also play a role. This is new territory for both England and New Zealand. Neither side can afford to blink.
Whats been said?
England captain Eoin Morgan
It means a huge amount to me and everybody in the changing room. Its a culminRead More – Source