History is set to be created at Lord’s on Sunday with a maiden ICC World Cup trophy up for grabs for either England or New Zealand.
Both teams notched impressive wins in their respective semi-final clashes after enduring similar campaigns in the round-robin phase where they lost three matches apiece.
While England were favourites for the title before the tournament began, the Black Caps have shown that they are no pushovers and can beat any team on their day.
The margins between a win and a loss on Sunday could be as fine as they get and the final outcome could very well come down to a few key moments.
Here, we look at three key battles that could be decisive at Lord’s.
Jason Roy vs Trent Boult
England’s openers have been in sensational form in the tournament and dislodging them early will be key for the Kiwis if they are to combat a batting unit that goes deep.
Jason Roy has been stellar with the bat throughout the campaign and his injury absence was felt dearly by the hosts when they suffered a shock defeat to Sri Lanka. Since returning from injury, Roy has already smashed three explosive fifties on the trot and is looking in prime touch for Sunday.
Only once in the tournament has the opener been dismissed for a score below 50 and the Kiwis will be wary of that ominous form. They will look to their pace spearhead in Trent Boult to stop Roy in his tracks and the left-armed bowler is more than capable of causing mayhem should there be any swing in the air.
Boult was phenomenal in the semi-final win over India and has picked up a total of 17 wickets in the tournament while maintaining an economy-rate of just 4.61.
Joe Root v Mitchell Santner
While there are plenty of big hitters in the England outfit, it is the classical Joe Root who remains the team’s batting linchpin. The right-hander has been in sublime touch in the World Cup with 549 runs to his name at an average of nearly 69.
Root will be crucial for England in the middle-overs with his effortless rotation of the strike and he possesses the ability to bring up a run-a-ball century without hitting a shot in anger. He is the foundation around which the hosts like to build around and New Zealand will be desperate to not allow him to get his way.
Mitchell Santner has picked up just six wickets in the tournament so far but he has still been extremely difficult to get away for most batsmen. The left-arm orthodox spinner has kept things really tight with excellent lines and subtle variations of his pace.
If Santner can build up the pressure again on Sunday, it could force Root to attack the other strike bowlers and that could play into New Zealand’s hands.
Jofra Archer v kane Williamson
Such has been the poor form of New Zealand’s openers that Kane Williamson has found himself arriving at the crease inside five overs for the most part.
The Kiwis skipper has been the glue that has held a patchy batting unit together throughout the tournament with some terrific individual displays and he will be the prize wicket for England on Sunday.
Williamson is averaging more than 91 with the bat in the ongoing World Cup and has scored nearly 30 per cent of his team’s total runs. Hence, the hosts will want his wicket early and are certain to unleash Jofra Archer at him at some stage.
The Barbados-born pacer has broken more helmets in the tournament than any other bowler with his express pace and steep bounce while also picking up 19 wickets along the way. Williamson’s supreme technique and focus will be difficult to shake off but if there is anyone who can rattle the Black Caps skipper, it is Archer.
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