The importance of Liam Plunkett to England’s 2019 ICC World Cup campaign was highlighted once again with the pacer playing a starring role in the final at Lord’s against New Zealand on Sunday.
While all eyes on Sunday were on England’s express pacers Jofra Archer and Mark Wood, it was Plunkett who turned out to be the destroyer-in-chief for the hosts with three crucial scalps in the middle overs.
The 24-year-old returned with figures of 3-42 and his performance was the centrepiece of England’s strong and disciplined bowling display which saw New Zealand restricted to 241-8 in their 50 overs.
Here, we take a closer look at Plunkett’s showing in the World Cup final after New Zealand elected to bat first.
Runs conceded: 42
After losing opener Martin Guptill early to Chris Woakes, New Zealand had recovered well through a promising stand between Henry Nicholls and skipper Kane Williamson. Their 74-run stand was broken in the 23rd over by Plunkett who found a faint outside edge off Williamson’s bat with an excellent cross-seam delivery.
Moments later, the veteran dismissed the other well-set batsman in Nicholls after getting the left-hander to play on to his stumps. Those two dismissals derailed the Kiwi momentum and Plunkett then put England on top when he ended the stay of the dangerous James Neesham in his final spell.
Plunkett used the cross-seam delivery to deadly effect at Lord’s with all three of his dismissals coming in that mode. The one to dismiss Williamson moved just slightly away in the air at the last moment to deceive the New Zealand skipper and the same movement proved to be Nicholls’ downfall when he attempted to drive at a delivery too close to his body.
With the ball just holding up on the Lord’s surface, the cross-seamer turned out to be the perfect weapon and Plunkett was able to extract maximum reward from it.
He also maintained excellent control throughout and did not concede a single wide or no-ball in his 10 overs.
Liam Plunkett and the middle overs.— England's Barmy Army (@TheBarmyArmy) July 14, 2019
Name a more iconic duo... we'll wait. pic.twitter.com/zRbeoBME6t
The medium-pacer barely erred in his second and third spells by giving the batsman little room although he was slightly off target in his first spell with a newer ball.
His first spell of three overs did little to trouble Williamson and Nicholls while also leaking a few boundaries. To his credit, Plunkett adjusted his lines and lengths brilliantly in his subsequent spells.
VERDICT – 9/10
He isn’t the flashiest of bowlers but Plunkett has been quietly effective for England all tournament long in the middle overs. He has reinvented himself constantly over the course of his career and now seems to understand his role in the team to perfection.
His dismissals of Williamson and Nicholls were crucial in wrestling back the initiative for England and ensured that the Kiwis were not able to build a solid foundation. England have had to drop Moeen Ali to make way for Plunkett but that decision has been vindicated completely with the medium pacer now extending his tournament tally to 11 wickets in seven appearances.
Know more about Sport360 Application