Dubai: Ben Stokes was the villain for England when Carlos Brathwaite carted four consecutive sixes to give an improbable win for West Indies in the final of the Twenty20 World Cup at Eden Gardens in Kolkata, the all-rounder’s distraught face is still vivid in memory.
Carrying such a scar, Stokes did not allows the pressure of the high-voltage game to get the better of him to guide England to victory in sensational final that will be remembered for years to come. The all-rounder’s knock, which enabled him to win the man of the match award, provided the turning point in England’s success story at the hallowed turf of Lord’s.
It’s extremely tough to be in Stokes shoes as time and again the memory of the last over would have come to haunt him, but now he has buried his demons in the best possible manner to pull England out of the woods and levelling the scores at a time when the wickets are falling like pins at the other end and had the unenviable task of shepherding the tail.
In the last over, Stokes proved the strength of his calm mind by retaining the strike, despite losing wickets at the other end, to give the hosts their maiden title, ending a 44-year wait and the heartbreak of missing out after reaching three finals.
If one thought that the 50-over cricket lacked the drama that the Twenty20 version provides, then this final is the biggest advertisement for the One Day Internationals. After nine hours of play, there was little that separated the teams in their battle for supremacy.
One’s heart goes out for the brave losers New Zealand and their captain Kane Williamson, who carried himself as an ambassador of the game and the captain of the Black Caps with perfection. With limited resources at his disposal in a team that did not have any superstars in the team, Williamson carried on gamely and reached this far, a credit to his astute captaincy skills.
The victory over India in the semi-finals must have given a massive boost to New Zealand’s confidence that they could go past the winning line after succumbing to the final hurdle in the previous edition. The experience of playing a final would have also eased the pressure on the Black Caps, which was quite evident in the manner they went about their task with a touch of calmness, unperturbed by the stage.
New Zealand might have sneaked into the semi-finals on better run rate, but little would they have expected to lose the final by something similar, on lesser boundaries after the Super Over finished in a tie.
The Super Sunday lived up to the hype with Novak Djokovic edging out Roger Federer in a marathon men’s final in Wimbledon Championships and England winning their maiden title in dramatic fashion and Lewis Hamilton winning the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. it can’t get any better. What a day for Sport!