A euphoric England captain Eoin Morgan says he never imagined that his side would be making its first World Cup final in 27 years after the disappointing preliminary stage exit it endured in the 2015 edition.
England entered their first World Cup final since 1992 after decimating five-time champions Australia by eight wickets, riding on a fearless knock of 85 from Jason Roy on Thursday.
“Everybody out there on the field and even in the changing room loved every ball that was bowled. There was no lack of commitment, application and we had a bit of a day out which, it’s cool when it happens like that, particularly when the bowlers bowl like that, it is awesome,” Morgan said.
“I think as a team we have learnt to enjoy ourselves, particularly days like this, even if they don’t go well. If you had offered us the position to play in a final the day after we were knocked out of the 2015 World Cup, I would have laughed at you,” he quipped.
Insisting that England have progressed since the last edition’s poor show, Morgan asked his teammates “not to shy away” from pressure in the showpiece’s final at the iconic Lord’s on Sunday.
“I think Sunday’s not a day to shy away from, it’s a day to look forward to, much like this. We have created the opportunity to play in a World Cup final. It will be a matter of the same again trying to produce everything that we can performance-wise but enjoy the day,” he added.
Chasing 224 in a World Cup semifinal was not expected to be a walk in the park but England made it look easy with an aggressive approach.
Since the 2015 World Cup, England have come a long way to become the world’s No.1 ODI side. But the journey, in what has been termed as ‘their World Cup’, has been far from rosy for the hosts.
At one point, England were on the brink of elimination after defeat to the same Australians at Lord’s in the league stages, and they needed three wins in a row to reach the title clash, where they will be up against New Zealand on Sunday.
Morgan praised his bowlers for setting up the platform for the eight-wicket win over Australia in the second semifinal here on Thursday.
“I think particularly the bowling unit. When you perform like that, you continue to take wickets, along with a little bit of luck, but we were quite persistent in the lengths that we bowled,” the skipper said.
“We stuck to our plans, our plans managed to work, even when (Steve) Smith and (Alex) Carey started to dominate and grow in the partnership they did, we found something, an opportunity.”
Having drubbed New Zealand by 119 runs in Durham in the league stages, England will start as overwhelming favourites in the final, but Morgan thinks otherwise.
“I think New Zealand throughout the whole tournament has been probably the hardest side to beat and the best side in the group stages,” he said.
“I think their performance in the semi-final was probably their best. They will be a difficult side to beat on Sunday, so we are looking forward to it.”