LONDON: New Zealand batsman Henry Nicholls had an unexpected start to his time quarantining in England when he switched on the television and saw a repeat showing of the 2019 World Cup final.

A remarkable match at Lord’s was only decided in England’s favour by boundary countback after a Super Over required when they had tied New Zealand’s total at the end of their regulation 50 overs.

Nicholls, New Zealand’s top-scorer in the match with 55, had been looking for some light relief during the squad’s isolation period at Hampshire’s Ageas Bowl headquarters near South­ampton when confronted by the extraordinary events of two years ago.

“I actually hadn’t really thought about that game for a while and then the first day we arrived here I turned on the cricket channel and there was a replay on,” Nicholls told Press Assoc­iation. “I don’t know if that was staged or if it was psychological warfare, but I’m sure we’d have been doing the same!”

He added: “It’s a funny one to think about. You always think where you could have scored an extra run or saved a run in the field. But as a group we did everything we could do and we’re proud. It was a two-month journey, we went so close but we didn’t win. What a game of cricket that was and for it to be the World Cup final was just incredible.”

New Zealand, however, are now back in England com­p­eting for another global title.

Following the two-Test series against England next month, they will face India in the inaugural World Test Championship from June 18 to 22, although this showpiece match will be at the Ageas Bowl, rather than Lord’s because of the need to maintain a secure bubble amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

New Zealand, however, will return to Lord’s, the ‘Home of Cricket’, this tour as it is the venue for the first Test against England.

“As a young cricketer growing up it has that mystique about it,” Nicholls said. “It will be nice to come and play there again, but it’s a completely different format and a completely different team. There is significance going back there for us, but we know it’s a lot different to righting any wrongs we had out there last time.”

Published in Dawn, May 20th, 2021

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