The 2019 ICC World Cup will live long in the memory of cricket fans after an epic finale at Lord’s which saw England pip New Zealand to a maiden title.
While the final was as thrilling a cricket match as they come, the entire tournament was also an eventful one with some sensational individual and team displays along the way.
Here, we look at the top five batting knocks of the tournament.
Babar Azam (Pakistan)
101 not out vs New Zealand
Pakistan had been set a target of 238 in a must-win clash at Edgbaston against New Zealand and they found themselves in trouble after losing the openers early.
The pitch started to slow down drastically with Mitchell Santner finding grip and turn. Even Kane Williamson’s part time off-spin was spitting venom with Pakistan’s batsmen finding the going tough.
Babar, however, survived an extremely testing period in the middle overs before going on the attack against the other bowlers. The Pakistan No3 was a picture of concentration out in the middle and he took the attack to the seamers and spinners alike once the target came closer.
The right-hander brought a packed Birmingham crowd to its feet when he brought up his maiden World Cup ton before taking his team home with five balls to spare.
Nathan Coulter-Nile (Australia)
92 vs West Indies
Australia were reeling at 147-6 in the 31st against the West Indies at Trent Bridge when Nathan Coulter-Nile arrived in the middle to join Steve Smith at the crease.
Aaron Finch’s men were in real danger of being bowled out inside 50 overs before Coulter-Nile turned things around with a counter-attacking innings.
The pacer struck his maiden ODI half-century and was looking good for a sensational ton before he holed out to Jason Holder at long-off for a 60-ball 92. A total of 12 boundaries including four sixes were thumped by the right-hander who had taken Australia’s total to 284-9 by the time he was dismissed.
It turned out to be a match-winning knock in the end with the Aussies registering a 15-run win.
Carlos Brathwaite (West Indies)
101 vs New Zealand
In what was a must-win game for Windies to keep their semi-final hopes alive, they found themselves struggling at 164-7 in a daunting chase of 292 against the Kiwis.
With all established batsmen bar Carlos Brathwaite back in the pavilion, it seemed like a hopeless cause for the Caribbean side. However, the all-rounder came mighty close to pulling off the improbable at Manchester.
Forging valuable partnerships with the tailenders, Brathwaite took Windies close to the finish line with the equation ultimately coming down to 47 off the final five overs with one wicket in hand.
Brathwaite tonked Matt Henry for 25 runs in the 48th over to put Windies within touching distance before tragedy struck in the next over. The all-rounder lifted the final delivery of the penultimate over towards the mid-wicket boundary where Trent Boult pulled off a stunning catch on the edge of the ropes.
A few more inches and that would have been a match-winning six for Windies but in the end, Brathwaite’s maiden ODI ton ended in agony.
Kane Williamson (New Zealand)
106 not out vs South Africa
While Brathwaite was unable to finish the job for his side at Old Trafford, Williamson had made no such mistake when he guided his team across the finish line against South Africa earlier in the tournament at Birmingham.
The Black Caps skipper saw his side reduced to 80-4 in a tricky chase of 242 on a very challenging surface but remained unflustered in the face of pressure to produce an innings of the highest quality.
Keeping the scoreboard ticking in customary fashion without taking too many risks, Williamson found an able ally in Colin de Grandhomme with the duo adding 91 runs for the sixth wicket.
However, Grandhomme fell in the 48th over in another late twist with the equation eventually coming down to eight required off the final over. Having kept his cool all game, Williamson launched into the second delivery to smash his first six of the match while also bringing up a spectacular century in the process.
A cleverly crafted boundary off the next delivery meant the right-hander had pulled off a stunning escape for his side.
Ben Stokes (England)
84 not out vs New Zealand
The England all-rounder played five innings of note throughout the tournament and all of them when his side was under extreme pressure. The best of the lot without a doubt, however, was the one he played in the final at Lord’s to hand England their maiden World Cup title.
The hosts looked to be crumbling under the pressure of a tricky run-chase of 242 with the tide well and truly against them at 86-4 in the 24th over.
Stokes, though, got stuck in once again at the crease in determined fashion and forged a valuable partnership with Jos Buttler for the fifth wicket. Buttler’s dismissal opened the floodgates once again with England’s tailenders falling in quick succession.
Stokes, however, would not be moved at the other end and the all-rounder kept England within reach somehow. 21 runs were required off the final four deliveries before Stokes launches Trent Boult for a huge six.
The left-hander then got his slice of luck in the next delivery with Martin Guptill’s throw deflecting off before running away for a boundary. His unbeaten 84 (95) took the tie into a Super Over where he was excellent once again and he is now deservedly the toast of England after that stellar display.
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