There have been 47 matches in the Cricket World Cup and only one remains which is the final of the competition at Lord’s on Sunday where the hosts and pre-event favourites England will take on New Zealand in a clash where both will be looking to land the trophy for the first time.
An elongated group stage and a couple of semi-finals have left us with the third and fourth best teams in the competition in the initial part of the tournament to contest this final but that doesn’t really matter now.
It hasn’t been plain sailing for New Zealand either although they have gone about their tournament differently. They were effectively in the semi-finals six matches in but found themselves clinging on to a last four spot after falling off the rails. Many made them cannon-fodder in the semi-final against India but this is not a side who read scripts and as it turned out they put in a rock solid performance to make this title showdown.
It is more than fair to say that their bowlers have been the reason why they have made it into this final. Only once in the tournament have New Zealand scored more than 260 but that doesn’t matter when their bowlers are going as well as they are. There is a fair suspicion that this venue suits them more than the hosts but they need to show that is the case rather than have people saying it is.
They might have made hard work of it and they might have done it the hard way but credit must go to England for making it to this final. They have had to win their last three matches to make it here and they haven’t just won them, they have prevailed by margins of 31 runs, 119 runs and eight wickets with 18 overs left – they have been landslide victories under the utmost pressure. If they can perform to that level one last time they could be lifting the trophy they have worked hard for four years to land.
You get the feeling this final is about the England batting line up. It might even be about a shorter version of that. It could just be about the opening pair and if they get off to another good start the game could be half won. That is because their bowlers have delivered the goods throughout the tournament and in Lord’s conditions you would be foolish not to back them to do so once again it must be said.
New Zealand have no reason to make any changes but I would be surprised if Colin Munro doesn’t come in for Henry Nicholls here. Nicholls is offering nothing and isn’t a player who can get away from a side.
Jonny Bairstow looked to pick up an injury in the demolition of Australia in the semi-final but it wasn’t as bad as feared and he is available to play. Jason Roy avoided a suspension so it is around too in what is expected to be an unchanged England side.
I’ll go with a few bets in this final as I did in the first meeting with the first one being a bet I took in the semi-final which is Chris Woakes’ performance. His line is 38.5 for this semi-final and that looks too low to me. He is in good form coming in here and offers a scoring option in all three facets of the game. He is more than capable of a couple of wickets here especially given when he bowls but it wouldn’t be a complete surprise if he ends up having to do some batting. We’ve seen him take some excellent catches in the tournament as well so over 38.5pts looks a decent bet to me.
I took the performance of Kane Williamson when these two met at Durham earlier in the tournament and the Kiwi captain covered it by a single point but would have blown it out of the water but for a freak run out when he was batting. You’ve got to think that isn’t happening again so a line of 48.5 could easily be covered with the bat. If it isn’t we saw in that first encounter that he can score in the field. He took two catches that day and he also has a wicket on this ground in this tournament. I don’t expect him to score many in the field but if he does happy days. The fact is he’s made it to 40 in every innings in this tournament apart from that game against England. I’ve got to think the Kiwi skipper covers this line.
Jonny Bairstow went into the match between these two sides last week off the back of successive centuries against New Zealand and he added another one to his CV up at Durham so that is three tons in his last three outings against the Kiwis. I’m slightly surprised that we have a run line for him at 36.5 in this match. That is what it was in that game last week and having blitzed that he then followed it up with 34 more against Australia in the semi-final. Bairstow looks so much better with Roy alongside him and I’m backing him to get to 37 again here.
Sometimes a final has an unseen hero and I wonder if the 33/1 on Mitchell Santner to be the man of the match in this one is a little on the high side. This feels like the sort of final where a decent spell of bowling and a bit of a late order cameo could deliver the goods and Santner can deliver on both counts. He is generally pretty tight with the ball and he can certainly club it with the bat. I don’t know if New Zealand will win this final or not, I certainly think they are a better chance than the odds suggest and as such a small punt at a huge price could pay dividends. He was excellent in the semi-final and is the sort of cool head who could go well in this final.
Back C.Woakes’ Performance – Over 38.5pts for a 4/10 stake at 2.00 with Betway
Back K.Williamson’s Performance – Over 48.5pts for a 4/10 stake at 1.83 with Betway
Back J.Bairstow – Over 36.5 runs for a 4/10 stake at 1.83 with Coral
Back M.Santner Man of the Match for a 1/10 stake at 34.00 with William Hill
Back him here: