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Stats Analysis

Where the World Cup final could be won and lost

The match-up for Sunday is an interesting one because it pits the most aggressive batting line-up of the tournament against the best bowling unit

Several parallels have been drawn between the 1992 World Cup and the current one, so here is another: these are the only two World Cups in which the team winning the tournament would have lost more than two matches. Pakistan lost to West Indies, India and South Africa on the way to their title in 1992, and whichever team wins on Sunday would have lost three in their journey. England lost to Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Australia, whereas New Zealand were beaten by Pakistan, Australia and England.
The best batting line-up versus the best bowling attack
England and New Zealand have both stumbled along the way in their campaign, but the match-up for Sunday is an interesting one because it pits the most aggressive batting line-up of the tournament against the best bowling unit. England's tournament run rate of 6.43 is easily the best - Australia are next with 6.02 - while their average of 43.26 runs per wicket is bettered only by India. Meanwhile, New Zealand's economy rate of 5.01 and their average of 27.12 are the best in the tournament.
The difference, though, is in the comparison between New Zealand's batting and England's bowling. New Zealand's run rate is ninth among ten teams, and their batting average seventh, while England's economy rate and bowling average are second only to New Zealand's. That makes England the firm favourites going into Sunday's final.
Coming to the tactics, here's where the 2019 World Cup final could be won and lost.
How New Zealand neutralise England's Roy-Bairstow advantage
The biggest difference between the two teams is their opening combinations. The last four times Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow have opened the batting, they've put together 128, 160, 123 and 124 (which could perhaps lead to the argument that they are due a failure); New Zealand's last seven opening stands read 1, 2, 29, 5, 0, 12, 0 - 49 runs at an average of seven.
In the matches where Roy and Bairstow have opened, England have usually bossed the Powerplays, while New Zealand's batting Powerplay numbers are among the poorest. The bowling numbers, though, are pretty similar.
An indication of England's dependence on their opening duo lies in the fact that they have lost all three games in the World Cup when they have lost more than one wicket in the Powerplay. Two of them, admittedly, came when James Vince opened in place of the injured Roy.
Left-arm seam bowlers have had a great impact at Lord's, the venue of Sunday's final, with batsmen averaging just 13.6 through the World Cup, and a wicket falling roughly every 17 balls. Trent Boult could play a big role in making the most of the ground's famed slope and causing early jitters to the England top order. Boult has got Roy and Bairstow a combined five times in 14 innings between them, with the former averaging just 18 against him. Will the tables turn on Sunday?
New Zealand's Williamson dependency, and the Root factor
Only one run separates the run aggregates of Joe Root and Kane Williamson, and yet, in terms of the impact on their teams, the difference is huge. England have scored 1029 runs more than New Zealand have in their campaign so far: 2942 to 1913. In terms of runs scored off the bat, Williamson has contributed 30% of New Zealand's tally, while Root's contribution is less than 20%. Fifty-nine percent of New Zealand's runs have been scored while Williamson was at the crease, compared to 47% of England's when Root was batting. Williamson's lowest score of the tournament (27) came against England, thanks to a freak run-out at the non-striker's end, but otherwise, he has been difficult to get past, averaging 91.3 in the tournament so far.
Also, in the eight innings that Williamson has batted in, 17 wickets have fallen at the other end while he was at the crease; in Root's case, only 12 wickets have fallen at the other end in the ten innings that he has batted in. That, once again, indicates the difference in the comparative batting strengths of the rest of the batsmen in the two teams.
Two firing pace attacks: who will come out on top?
While there is a huge gulf in the batting stats of the two teams, New Zealand's bowling numbers are the best in the tournament, with their pace attack being particularly potent. New Zealand's seamers have collectively taken 66 wickets at 24.81, compared to England's 64 at 26.53.
Each team has two bowlers with more than 15 wickets: Boult and Lockie Ferguson for New Zealand, Jofra Archer and Mark Wood for England. Matt Henry and Chris Woakes have 13 wickets each, while Jimmy Neesham and Liam Plunkett have been worthy support acts.
In the spin department, Adil Rashid has been among the wickets - he is the second-highest wicket-taker among spinners with 11 - but his economy rate of 5.79 is relatively high. Mitchell Santner has taken only six wickets, but his economy rate of 4.87 is third among the 13 spinners who have bowled 40-plus overs in this tournament.
Who will win the middle-overs battle?
England's relentless army of aggressive batsmen have mostly done a fine job of handling the middle overs: they have gone at more than a-run-a-ball in this phase in six out of ten matches in the tournament. Ben Stokes' strike rate of 87 in this phase is the lowest among England's top six; Bairstow, Roy and Jos Buttler have scored at more than a-run-a-ball, and England's run rate of 6.22 in this phase is easily the highest among all teams; Australia are the next at 5.87.
New Zealand's batsmen have been laggards in the middle overs, scoring at 4.68 per over, lower than all teams except Afghanistan, but their bowlers have been exceptional in that period. Their economy rate is also 4.68, which is the best among all teams, as is their bowling average of 30.35 during this phase. Ferguson has bossed the middle overs for New Zealand with his express pace and variations, and his average of 19 and economy rate of 4.19 are the best among bowlers who have bowled more than 25 overs in this phase. Ferguson, notably, was rested for their league game against England, and along with Santner, offers them a great degree of control in the overs 11 to 40. The duo are among the biggest reasons why New Zealand have been able to get away with middling totals with the bat throughout the tournament.
The toss factor at Lord's
Teams batting first have won 17 off the last 22 games (77%) in this World Cup, and the bat-first advantage is particularly pronounced at Lord's, where all four games so far have been won by the side batting first. One of the reasons cited for this are the late-tournament pitches getting slower and slower, making chasing much harder. England proved at Edgbaston that they could lose the toss and win a game chasing, thanks to the excellence of their new-ball attack.
Even if the wicket is a fresh one at Lord's, unless overhead conditions play a significant part, the team winning the toss might opt to bat to avoid scoreboard pressure. Will the bat-first narrative play out once again? Or is there one final twist in the tale?

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. @rajeshstats