The New Zealand Cricket team or better knows as the ‘Black Caps’ have had so many legends, with so much quality in their ranks, but apparently no trophies to show for how great the cricketing talent is in the country. The last decade saw them coming ever so close to win the precious 50 over World Cup, but failing every single time. This blog is about the tale of two World Cups which the Black Caps would never want to forget but only until the last ball of the final was bowled.
2015 World Cup
After overachieving in the last world cup by reaching the semi finals, the black caps were not given a very good chance even after being the co-host nation. There was bit of a mismatch in the team, as they did have very experienced players like Brendon and Nathan McCullum, Dan Vettori but they all were in the twilight of their careers and for sure playing their last World Cup. But the team also had players like Kane Williamson, Trent Boult, Tom Lathem and a few more who were young and very less experienced players. These guys were yet to reach the peak of their careers so not much was to be expected from them. But, they emerged as the dark horses of the tournament and rallied their way through to the final by being the last unbeaten team surviving in the tournament. All was on the back of great performances and also a bit of luck. New Zealand, against the odds were able to qualify for the finals where they had to face the mighty Australians. It was to be a new and probably the most profound chapter in the Trans-Tasmanian rivalry. The stage was set for an epic finale in Melbourne Cricket Ground, Australia. The hype around the game maybe was a bit too much for the Black caps. They put up a very disappointing show in the finals. The Australians were very easily able to chase down a mere target of 183 to win their 5th World Cup. The Black caps although being the best team throughout the tournament failed to show those performances in the match that mattered the most.
The Transition Phase
After the World Cup, significant players like Brendon McCullum and Dan Vettori had announced retirement and now the responsibility of carrying the team forward was on the young guns. Kane Williamson was chosen to lead the line, a prolific batsmen for the Black Caps but the main question was that could he also be a prolific captain? He still had players like Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor in the ranks and so a new era in the Black Cap’s history was bound to start. The preparations for the next World Cup went really well for the New Zealand team. They were able to discover young players like Mitchell Santner, Jimmy Neesham who had a lot of potential in them. But then in 2018 the team took 7 months off from international cricket which baffeled a lot of pundits but when they came back, they came with a bang! They showed brilliant performances just before the 2019 World Cup and looked like one of the favourites going in the tournament.
2019 World Cup
With India and the host England being the strong favourites, New Zealand were a team to watch out for as said by many experts. Kane Williamson-led side had a great start to the World Cup once again and were seen to be cruising. But after losing their last 3 group games, their top 4 finish for a moment felt uncertain but they did manage to finish fourth in the group. In the semi finals they faced the ruthless Indian team which finished first in the group table and were showing no signs of stopping. New Zealand were given no chance and maybe that is what they enjoy and thrive on. They had to fight really hard for the victory against India in a rain-hit semifinal. Their gritty performance against the favourites India, made people realise that they did have a very good chance in the finals against England and their dream to finally lift the prestigious World Cup could come true.
The fans present at the ‘home of cricket’ The Lord’s Stadium, the viewers watching the match, no one had an idea that they were going to witness one of the most exciting and special final in World Cup’s history. Two well matched sides, New Zealand and England went full hammer and tongs in the final. New Zealand put on a decent score of 241 runs by the help of a stellar half century from Henry Nicholls a certain unlikely source. England got off to a shaky start but the duo of Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes steadied England’s ship. The game was equally contested and even the 100 overs in total weren’t enough to seperate the two sides. Thanks to Ben Stokes’ 84 England were able to tie the scores. The World Cup final witnessed a super over for the very first time. But even the super over couldn’t separate the two sides and England won their first ever World Cup because they scored more boundaries than the Black Caps.
To a lot of people this was injustice for New Zealand and that the ICC rules were absurd. But the ultimately the World Cup went to England and New Zealand were left disappointed in a final once again. The real question stands now that can New Zealand come back even more stronger in the next World Cup and finally could get their hands on the prestigious trophy.