The 2019 Cricket World Cup – the 12th edition of one-day cricket’s flagship event – was one that will live long in the memory for England fans, after their team prevailed over New Zealand by the slimmest of margins in a dramatic and emotionally-charged final at Lord’s on Sunday, July 14.
Despite what was predicted before the campaign, the World Cup was not a high-scoring tournament – a departure from what has been the norm in one-day cricket in England over the past four years. The tournament was a throwback to older times, with scores of over 250 falling into a competitive bracket, and over 300 often proving to be match-winning.
But even with the grind that batsmen were up against, there were some spectacular individual performances with the bat. Below, we look at the best of them.
Rohit Sharma (India) – 140 v Pakistan
Rohit Sharma had the tournament of his life, scoring 648 runs, including a record five centuries. The one against Pakistan, however, stands out for the sheer quality of strokeplay. In arguably the most anticipated match of the round-robin, Rohit laid into a lax Pakistan attack, as the sea of Indian contingent at Old Trafford was treated to a masterclass. In all, his knock contained 14 fours and three sixes, and set India up for a tall total of 336, which they defended successfully to maintain their spotless Cricket World Cup record against their old rivals, with a seventh successive win.
Shakib Al Hasan (Bangladesh) – 124* v West Indies
Bangladesh’s talismanic all-rounder had one of the greatest World Cup campaigns of any player, creating history by becoming the first man ever to pull off the double of 500 runs and 10 wickets in a single edition. Shakib almost single-handedly carried Bangladesh’s batting on his shoulders, racking up the runs with stunning consistency.
Arguably the finest of those performances came against West Indies, when he slammed 124 unbeaten runs, off just 99 balls, to make a mockery of 322-run chase. With the help of 16 fours and Liton Das, Shakib aced the chase in just 41.3 overs to equal Bangladesh’s own record of their highest successful chase ever.
Eoin Morgan (England) – 148 v Afghanistan
In undoubtedly the most brutal display of batting in the tournament, Eoin Morgan pulverised Afghanistan’s hapless attack with a barrage of sixes. Morgan shattered the world record for the most sixes in an ODI innings, cracking 17 of them, on his way to 148 off just 71 balls.
It was one of those days when everything clicked: having barely taken time to get into his groove, Morgan looked relaxed, carefree, and in total control of his game. Riding on his onslaught, England cruised to both the biggest score in the tournament, 397-6, as well as the largest win of the competition, by 150 runs.
Kane Williamson (New Zealand) – 106* v South Africa
Cool, calm and collected, Williamson soaked up the pressure under overcast skies, against a game South African attack to make one of his best one-day centuries. In a tough chase of 242, New Zealand were reeling at 80-4 and then 137-5. But Williamson was unshakeable as he tied down one end and kept New Zealand afloat single-handedly.
He was later joined by Colin de Grandhomme, as the duo put New Zealand back on track. But in the face of a mounting required rate, it was Williamson who struck the decisive blows: with eight required off the final over, the New Zealand captain calmly launched Andile Phehlukwayo for a six and a four to seal a four-wicket win for his team.
Kane Williamson (New Zealand) – 148 v West Indies
Williamson followed up his heroic performance against South Africa with another century three days later, against West Indies. With New Zealand having lost both their openers inside the first over, Williamson was once again in for a hard grind. And he didn’t disappoint. With impeccable timing and some support from Ross Taylor, the captain constructed another masterclass to haul his team to 291-8. As it turned out later, it was just barely enough to secure a win.
Carlos Brathwaite (West Indies) – 101 v New Zealand
In one of the most stunning rearguard efforts in World Cup history, Carlos Brathwaite nearly stunned New Zealand with a boundary-laden assault late in the West Indies chase. Things had gone pear-shaped for West Indies after Chris Gayle and Shimron Hetmyer had them cruising at 142-2.
West Indies lost five wickets for 22 runs, but Brathwaite revived the innings, rallying with the lower order. With West Indies one hit away from a famous win, Brathwaite’s valiant effort was ended by a brilliant catch from Boult by the wide long-on boundary as West Indies fell agonisingly short, by five runs.
Jonny Bairstow (England) – 111 v India
England’s World Cup dream was on a tightrope after they shockingly lost to Sri Lanka, followed by defeat to Australia at Lord’s. But, bolstered by the return of his opening partner Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow slammed his maiden World Cup century to keep England alive.
Making full use of beautiful batting conditions in Birmingham, Bairstow punished India’s world-class attack by unfurling a series of big hits. He and Roy stitched together 160 for the first wicket. It set England up for 337-7, which proved to be well beyond India’s reach.
Ben Stokes (England) – 84* v New Zealand
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Ben Stokes played the innings of his life to rescue a flagging England chase and turn it around into the greatest final of all time. England were on the rocks, crumbling to 86-4 in the face of some world-class bowling by New Zealand. But Stokes kept English hopes alive, joining hands with Jos Buttler to resurrect the innings with a 110-run fifth-wicket stand. After Buttler’s dismissal, he continued to stand between New Zealand and victory.
Under immense pressure, Stokes produced timely boundaries to take the game into a super over, after a dramatic 50th from Trent Boult, before going on to strike more lusty blows in the super over. On a day when literally nothing separated the two teams, Stokes stood tall, with his grit, courage and tenacity to hand England their maiden World Cup trophy.