By: Chinmay Vaidya, Aashay Chavan, Aneesh Tyle and Paarth Joshi
After 47 grueling matches, the 2019 World Cup final is upon us. No matter what happens, one country will be lifting the trophy for the first time ever. England and New Zealand meet in the World Cup final four years after both teams were on drastically different paths. The hosts had bowed out in hilariously disastrous fashion in 2015 while the Blackcaps finally broke the semifinal barrier to appear in a World Cup final.
For the first time since 1992, a World Cup final will not feature either India or Australia. The Aussies lost a semifinal match for the first time in their World Cup history. New Zealand bottled up India to advance to consecutive finals, becoming the fifth country ever to do so.
The Follow On crew breaks down England-New Zealand matchup with seven questions, from who the most important players are to who will get that elusive first World Cup title.
1. Does either team have more momentum heading into the final?
Chinmay Vaidya: As the semifinals showed, momentum doesn’t mean anything. Both teams enter after winning the last game but that doesn’t mean anything. England might feel its players are in better form, but New Zealand’s bowlers will also feel confident.
Aashay Chavan: In spite of New Zealand’s thrilling victory against India, I think England still has more momentum. Lest we forget New Zealand finished off on a steep decline, losing three in a row in the group stages after looking almost unbeatable during the first 5 matches. Although this may be the jump start they so sorely needed, I doubt it will be enough to overcome England’s firepower. They barreled their way against a good Australian team.
Aneesh Tyle: England has the momentum coming off 3 straight dominating wins against Australia, India and then Australia again in the semifinal.
Paarth Joshi: England. Despite an incredible win from New Zealand against India, the Blackcaps still had a rough end to the group stage while England has managed to pull of several impressive wins in a row coming into the final.
2. What is the key matchup?
CV: New Zealand’s pace bowlers against England’s openers. Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow have been killing opponents in this tournament and are keys for England. The Blackcaps blazed through India’s top order to help cement a place in the final. They’ll be looking to repeat that against the hosts.
AC: New Zealand’s opening pace vs England’s openers Roy and Bairstow. When Roy's on, he’s ON. He can be described as fluid big hitter at worst, a destructive match winner at best. New Zealand’s pacers (Boult, Henry, and Lockie) are in for a challenge but they’ve showed they can defend any total (New Zealand has not scored more than 300 once this entire tournament).
AT: Opening Batsmen vs New Ball. Who can get the all-important early inroads?
PJ: Roy vs Boult and Henry. If Roy can get it going early, New Zealand will be in DEEP trouble.
3. Most important player for England?
CV: For England, Roy is key. He’s been on fire in the games he’s played. If Roy gets going, he can singlehandedly take away the game from New Zealand. If he gets out quickly, England will face a slight setback and it could open the door for more wickets.
AC: I'm gonna go with one of two choices here: Stokes or Bairstow. Stokes can have an impact in all three phases of the game and if he dabbles his hand in each of them, he can singlehandedly change the match. Bairstow – who can lead from the front and get a big score quickly in any game, is also a worthy candidate.
AT: The obvious answer is Jason Roy (since his return, the opening partnerships have dominated), but I'm going to Joe with Root ;). He's the glue in their order and can anchor down or accelerate at will.
PJ: Jason Roy. If he can score 75+ the match is over. Not only is his strike rate amazing, but he has an uncanny knack of demoralizing a bowling attack and taking the fire out of 11 men.
4. Most important player for New Zealand?
CV: I think Martin Guptill is the most important player for New Zealand in this final. He’s been complete garbage this tournament after a sublime performance in 2015. If Guptill can click in the final, it’ll redeem an otherwise forgettable tournament run for the Kiwi opener.
AC: Kane Williamson, without a doubt. He does need to score a tad quicker in my opinion if the Blackcaps hope to put up a score of 330+ versus England. Martin Guptill is also someone to watch out for. I know he’s had a poor cup so far but maybe that run-out throw in the semis will give him the confidence he needs to go back to 2015 World Cup batting form right when his team needs it most.
AT: Kane Williamson- DUH. he's been New Zealand's best batsman this entire tournament. He needs to play the innings of his life to propel the batting order. If Williamson gets out early, then England will have a huge advantage.
PJ: Mitchell Santner. It's a slightly wild choice, but the game will come down to his ability to take wickets. Santner will likely be brought on within the first 15 overs and if he can take a couple quick ones as he has done in the past, England will be on the back foot. Plus he can chip in with the bat if needed.
5. England wins if....
CV: The openers click. Roy and Bairstow are so destructive, as India and Australia witnessed. If the openers get going and stay there for a long time, England might top 400.
AC: If the hosts bat first and score 350+ and have a good bowling powerplay. I don’t think New Zealand has quite the firepower down the order to make up for a slow start in a 350+ run chase.
AT: The hosts bat first and put up 300+. With their bowling, New Zealand won't chase that down.
PJ: Jason Roy scores 75 or more runs.
6. New Zealand wins if....
CV: The pace bowlers take early wickets. Trent Boult and Matt Henry have been consistently delivering breakthroughs for the Blackcaps. Lockie Ferguson is an excellent secondary option that can also change the game.
AC: If it gets to bat first and doesn’t face the pressure of a looming 330+ target. The Kiwis can bat freely, getting 300+ themselves. They’ll back their bowlers to defend any total.
AT: If the Blackcaps can get Roy and Bairstow out in the first powerplay and if Williamson and Ross Taylor play like they have been.
PJ: Ross Taylor scores 75+. He often goes unnoticed, but Taylor is the perfect compliment to any top order batsman in New Zealand's lineup. And once he’s set, we all know he can increase the run rate. Is there one more "Ross Taylor game" left in his career?
7. Final Prediction: Which teams wins and who is the Man of the Match?
CV: I picked England at the beginning of the tournament and switched my pick to New Zealand after 30 games. I’ll stick with the Blackcaps to lift their first World Cup trophy with Trent Boult taking Man of the Match honors.
AC: New Zealand bats first, puts up a 300+ score. England starts strong at about 120-1, but a wicket in the middle leads to a small collapse, and then New Zealand bowlers smell blood, finishing off the game by bowling England out.
AT: I think it'll be another one-sided match. England wins and Eoin Morgan is Man of the Match.
PJ: England is the better side. The hosts will win this contest behind a brilliant, unbeaten century from Joe Root, who will also get the Man of the Match honors and likely the Player of the Tournament award.