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Home   /   England become first men’s side to hold both World Cups at once

3rd April 2016; the last time England were in a T20 World Cup final. Ben Stokes bowled the last over, with West Indies needing 19 to win. Six, six, six, six. Carlos Brathwaite smashed four sixes in a row to win the game, sending Stokes and England into despair. 13th November 2022; Stokes struck 52 runs off 49 balls to win England the T20 World Cup against Pakistan at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Redemption.

Not that Stokes needed a redemption arc following his 2019 heroics, but considering the fierce competitor he is, that over in 2016 would still have been burning him until now. The England test captain fought hard on a tricky pitch, with wickets tumbling around him. As the Durham all-rounder whipped the ball through mid-wicket for a single to secure victory, he let out an almighty roar and the England bench went into pandemonium. Not only was this revenge for Stokes, but the whole country in general, for the 1992 World Cup final loss to Pakistan.

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England’s white ball transformation since the terrible performance at the 2015 World Cup is nothing short of remarkable. Under Eoin Morgan’s leadership and now Jos Buttler, they have produced one of the best white ball eras of all time. This era was capped off with a famous night in Australia, as England became the T20 World Cup champions for the second time in their history, with a five-wicket victory over Pakistan. Matthew Mott’s side are the only men’s team in history to hold both International Cricket Committee World Cup’s, after famously winning the 50 over tournament in 2019 and now holding the T20 World Cup. England chased down 137 runs, with an over to spare thanks to the brilliance of Stokes.  

The game was right in the balance in the 16th over and Pakistan seemed to be building momentum, but England had a stroke of luck. Star bowler Shaheen Afridi was forced off the pitch due to injury, just one ball into his third over. Shaheen is known for his pace, swing and brilliant death bowling. However, after injuring himself taking a catch to remove Harry Brook, he was not able to fully recover. The ball was thrown to Iftikhar Ahmed instead and Stokes pounced on this, smacking ten off the last two balls to take the game away from Pakistan.

Despite the Durham star’s huge efforts, there was another player that picked up player of the match and tournament. Sam Curran. The left-armer deserved all of the plaudits he received after an excellent performance in the final and the whole tournament. Curran took three wickets for 12 runs from his four overs, with an economy rate of just three runs per over, which is all the more impressive considering two of these overs were at the death. The Surrey bowler missed the last World Cup through injury, but has spent the last year practicing his skills to become one of the best death bowlers in the world.  

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Partly thanks to Curran, England restricted Pakistan to just 137 runs for eight wickets from their twenty overs. Every time Babar Azam’s side seemed to get going, they were pegged back by brilliant bowling from Mott’s side. Liam Livingstone’s first over went for 16 runs with Shan Masood targeting the spinner, but then the next over was a brilliant wicket-maiden from Adil Rashid. Rashid bowled excellently, taking two wickets for just 22 runs from his four overs, including the key wickets of captain Babar and the dangerous Mohammad Haris. The Yorkshire spinner doubled his total wickets for the tournament in the match and proved critical in both the semi-final and final.

Pakistan’s bowling attack has been phenomenal throughout the tournament and if any team was going to be able to defend a low score, then it would be them. Shaheen got his side off to a brilliant start in the first over, bowling Alex Hales for just one run. Phil Salt went in the third over, hitting a pull shot straight to Iftikhar at mid-wicket off the bowling of the rapid Haris Rauf. Buttler seemed to not be phased by the pressure the bowlers and the jubilant crowd were putting on him, playing an incredible scoop shot over the fine-leg boundary. However, the England captain could do nothing but edge a brilliant delivery from Rauf straight through to Mohammad Rizwan and England looked in huge trouble being three down within the power play.  

With Stokes at the crease everyone in the MCG and at home knew England were never out of the match. The test captain started very slowly trying to get a grip of the bounce and tricky nature of the pitch. Buttler in good spirits after the game, joked, “If he batted like that in a Test match, he’d drop himself!” Stokes knew that the run rate wasn’t a problem though and that if he was there at the end then England were probably champions and he was right. 

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Despite the plaudits going to Stokes and Curran, Harry Brook and Moeen Ali provided crucial cameo batting performances at the end of the innings. It was even more impressive that they hadn’t played much Cricket due to the imperious form of England’s openers. Brook slowed Pakistan’s momentum with 20 runs off 23 balls, the youngster showed an experienced head to build a crucial partnership with Stokes. Ali on the other hand is vastly experienced and it showed out there when the pressure was building. The all-rounder smashed 19 runs off just 13 balls to put his side in a position where it was near on impossible to lose. Ali unleashed three fours in the 17th over bowled by Mohammad Wasim, who had no answer for the Worcestershire captain. The all-rounder missed out on the 2019 final, which will have made his crucial role here even sweeter.

This will be a night players and staff will cherish forever and it is that bit sweeter that it was won at arguably Australia’s most famous stadium.

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April 2024