England set victory target of 242 as Woakes and Plunkett shine
New Zealand were able to successfully defend a score of 239 in their semi-final win over India.
England require 242 to win a first World Cup crown after three-wicket bursts from Liam Plunkett and Chris Woakes stymied New Zealand’s bid to set an unassailable total in the final at Lord’s.
The all-important scalp of Kiwi captain Kane Williamson was among Plunkett’s haul of three for 42, the seamer once again showing his worth to England in the middle overs, while Woakes contributed three for 37.
Williamson’s 30 off 53 balls reflected New Zealand’s watchful approach as they posted 241 for eight on another tricky pitch, Henry Nicholls overturning an lbw decision on nought to top-score with 55 off 77 deliveries.
Plunkett’s key breakthroughs took the headlines though Woakes was the metronome of the England attack, especially early on, and Mark Wood and Jofra Archer turned up the heat – although England gave away 17 wides in 30 extras.
Wood equalled the fastest delivery in the tournament at 95.7 miles per hour while he chipped in with the wicket of Ross Taylor – earning an lbw decision that would have been overturned had New Zealand not earlier burned their review.
England’s fourth World Cup final and first since 1992 drew a crowd of thousands to Trafalgar Square while an estimated six million viewers were expected to watch the showpiece on Channel 4.
Not since the conclusion of the 2005 Ashes have such numbers been seen but this was a slow-burner of an innings from the Black Caps, who defended 239 against India in the semi-final.
The toss was delayed by 15 minutes because of overnight rain, New Zealand deciding to bat first under cloudy skies which rarely parted over the course of their 50 overs at the home of cricket.
Woakes bowled immaculately in his first spell and thought he had trapped Nicholls plumb in front, only for a review to reprieve the batsman, technology showing the ball would have gone over the stumps.
Woakes would make the breakthrough when Martin Guptill was pinned on the back leg, the opener departing for a punchy 19 and spurning New Zealand’s review in the process.
Williamson, with more than 500 runs at an average of 91.33 in this tournament, was the big fish and after a cautious start he gradually grew in confidence, delightfully slog sweeping Adil Rashid over midwicket for four.
Plunkett’s cross-seamer accounted for the dangerman but only after a review, Ultraedge showing a nick before going through to wicketkeeper Jos Buttler, while Nicholls inside-edged the seamer onto his stumps.
Taylor was ill at ease in his 15 before playing around one from Wood. Had New Zealand been able to review then their veteran batsman would have been able to resume his innings, with technology showing the ball would miss the stumps.
Jimmy Neesham confidently took two leg-side fours in three balls off Ben Stokes to add some impetus but he departed for 19 after tamely chipping another cross-seamer from Plunkett to Joe Root at mid-on.
Colin De Grandhomme (16) and Tom Latham (47) holed out off Woakes while Archer cleaned up Matt Henry in the final over, though New Zealand added 62 in the final 10 overs to reach what looks a competitive total at halfway.