It was never going to be easy, was it? Two teams without a World Cup title between them in 44 years of the men's competition. After 100 overs, the last couple of which contained almost as much drama as a few previous finals in their entirety, nothing could separate England and New Zealand. For the first time in World Cup history, a Super Over was required to determine the winner.
Asked to score 16 from six balls, Jimmy Neesham coolly struck Jofra Archer's second legitimate delivery way back into the Mound Stand, making the equation seven off four. A brace of twos followed, before Archer's bumper took Neesham off strike. Martin Guptill, at the end of a tournament of personal trial, needing to hit two more otherwise England would take the trophy on boundaries scored. Archer found a yorker, Guptill found deep midwicket and Jason Roy's throw found Guptill short; Jos Buttler completed the run-out at full stretch to end all those years of hurt and an afternoon of exquisite agony.
England had only got close in their chase thanks to Buttler and Ben Stokes, whose 110-run stand lifted the home nation from peril at 86 for 4. The pair walked out again to scramble 15 from an over of Trent Boult: pressure back on New Zealand. They responded by sending out Neesham, a man who not so long ago was contemplating quitting the game, to face Archer, in his 14th ODI. Only one could finish a hero.
That said, there were heroes aplenty on both sides. For the second game in succession, New Zealand put up a score in the region of 240 and defended it with every fibre of their Blackcapped beings. Just when they appeared to have the game won, a man born in Christchurch ripped it from their hands, in a manner at once extraordinary and unbelievable. Stokes finished unbeaten on 84, though like Guptil he too could not manage a two from the final ball of England's innings to win the game in regulation time.
New Zealand had gone into the final over believing that the trophy was in their grasp. England needed 15, Stokes carrying a country's hopes - not to mention the almost unbearable weight of history - on his shoulders. The first two balls bowled by Boult were dots, before Stokes mowed the third for six into the crowd at midwicket. Then came an intervention that was either cruel or miraculous, depending on your perspective. Stokes, diving for his ground as he attempted to complete a second run, diverted Guptill's throw off his bat - inadvertantly - past wicketkeeper Tom Latham and away to the rope for four more.
Stokes immediately held up his hands in apology, but with no sign that he had changed the course of his run to intercept the throw, it went down as a second consecutive six. That left England needing three from two, though Boult kept his cool to twice run out the non-striker coming back for a second and send the game into a Super Over.
The previous over, something almost as extraordinary had occurred: having caught Stokes on the boundary at wide long-on, Boult stepped on the rope before he could relay the ball back in to Guptill. Instead of Stokes departing for 63, with England needing 22 off eight and Nos. 9 and 10 at the crease, he was granted another shot at redemption. Instead of Kolkata Part II, this was to become his finest hour, Stokes ultimately crowned man of the match after leading England to victory in a World Cup final at the fourth time of asking.
There is a new name on the cup, then, but they didn't half keep the engravers waiting. England had built towards this competition for four years, planned for it, yearned for it - and when the moment came, the outburst was rapturous. Staid and stuffy Lord's had become a cauldron of emotion long before that last passage of play.
New Zealand deserved better than to end up the fall guys again. Their captain, Kane Williamson, orchestrated his men in the field to squeeze England's chase until it became unbearable. First Buttler fell with 46 required from the last 31 balls, Lockie Ferguson delivering what seemed to be the killer blow. Stokes staggered on, even as the tail became expendable. Ultimately, the fact England had scored 24 boundaries in their innings, compared to New Zealand's 16, was the decisive factor.
That one of England's fours was effectively an overthrow may always rankle, as well as a couple of the umpiring decisions that went the other way. Williamson, who made only 30 but captained with nerves of steel and was named man of the tournament, called the runs via Stokes' deflection "a shame" but suggested that for New Zealand, beaten finalists for the second World Cup running, it was just not meant to be.
The very first delivery of England's chase gave an indication of how nerve-shredding a contest this would become. Boult produced a curving inswinger to hit Jason Roy squarely on the front pad and 4.8m primarily rugby-loving people went up in unison. Marais Erasmus shook his head and although New Zealand chose to review, it was Roy who benefited from the marginal nature of umpire's call.
The opening exchanges were a blur of black and blue, with bruises on both sides, when Matt Henry finally located Roy's outside edge. England's opening partnership has been totemic and Roy had swaggered into this final, so the importance of his dismissal was twofold in that it both dented English confidence and deprived the chase of a man who might quickly reduce the odds in their favour.
With Henry bowling a beautiful spell and Joe Root unable to find his rhythm, New Zealand clawed their way into the ascendency. The tension was enervating, Lord's subdued. Colin de Grandhomme dropped Bairstow off his own bowling, a reaction chance to his midriff, as New Zealand strung together three maidens in a row. Root then cracked: hit on the pads and then beaten when he gave de Grandhomme the charge, he next threw his bat at a wide outswinger to be caught behind.
In stultifying conditions, New Zealand applied a choke hold. Bairstow dragged on against the pace of Ferguson, who then brilliantly caught Eoin Morgan running in from deep point. Meanwhile de Grandhomme, playing the role of a latter-day Madan Lal, bowled ten overs off the reel.
Nothing about this contest was straightforward, including the decision at the toss, which had been delayed by 15 minutes due to early morning rain. Williamson chose to bat, in keeping with the dominant trend at this tournament - runs on the board matter. While England bowled well enough, a Powerplay score of 33 for 1 left the teams circling each other warily; New Zealand happy to have only lost Guptill, England eager to send back Williamson, too, as quickly as possible.
With Henry Nicholls providing the first half-century by a New Zealand opener since the opening game, they were able to establish a foothold. As in the group match between these two, Nicholls was given out lbw on zero by a Chris Woakes delivery that was going over the stumps; this time, on the biggest stage, he had the wherewithal to use New Zealand's review.
England thought they might have removed Guptill inside the first couple of overs, too, only for Erasmus to correctly adjudge that the ball from Archer had flicked the batsman's trousers rather than outside edge. Guptill's response was to try and hit a way out of his rut, ramping Archer for six and smashing another boundary back down the ground. But Woakes brought one back inside an expansive drive to hit the back leg, and Guptill's wasted review was to have consequences later on.
Nicholls and Williamson played sensibly to put on 74 but, whether it was the pitch or the occasion, the innings nevertheless began to enter a gentle tailspin from the moment Williamson was removed by Liam Plunkett - DRS again required to overturn the on-field call. Nicholls chopped on against another Plunkett cross-seamer four overs later, and then New Zealand were left to curse their luck when Ross Taylor was given out lbw, despite ball-tracking showing the ball going over the top of leg stump. It would not end up being the only talking point of the day.