When the number two did not lose

Oh! What a cliff-hanger of a World Cup Final it turned out to be. Yes, it hurts that India wasn’t there, but we did get an edge-of-the-seat thriller, going into the super over after New Zealand and England tied the scores at 241. Eventually, the hosts won by dint of a larger number of boundaries, but the two sides were so evenly balanced that it is hard to say who was a deserving winner. Our sympathies remain with New Zealand.

No, not because they got the better of us on the only day when our form played truant. But, because being the underdogs against England, being way smaller in population and thus in the talent pool, they frontally took on the nation that gave cricket to the world. It was just as well that we witnessed a hugely spectacular display of cricket at its most cherished home, Lord’s. Among the several ironies, the cricketing audiences would cherish was the fact that Ben Stokes, who literally snatched the final away from the Kiwis, was New Zealand-born.

Again, the super over bowler Jofra Archer, England fielded very nearly failed to make it to the first eleven. Without an iota of doubt, the World Cup 2019 will remain etched in the memory of every cricket fan. And thanks to this nail-biter of a contest, even tens of millions who otherwise did not care for the sport would have turned converts. Cricket’s centre of gravity has essentially shifted from its original home to the sub-continent. Despite the failure to make the Final, the Men in Blue enhanced their reputation. Not a small thing, considering the public moaning and groaning across our western borders.

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