Edgbaston on Sunday will mark the first instance of the two teams facing each other in the final of an ICC event.
England v India at Edgbaston on Sunday will mark the first instance of the two teams facing each other in the final of an ICC tournament. In fact, the only time they played each other in any sort of final was at Lord's in 2002 when they were contesting the tri-nation Natwest Series.
The closest either team has ever come to meeting in a tournament final were the semi-finals of the 1983 and 1987 World Cups. In their first encounter, at Manchester on June 22, 1983 India knocked England out in the semi-final of the Prudential World Cup with a six-wicket win.
There were two moments that really stood out from this match: Yashpal Sharma hitting Bob Willis for six and Kirti Azad bowling Ian Botham with a shooter that rolled along the turf. On both occasions an obscure Indian had humbled a famous Englishman. Azad was an innocuous offspinner who had his day when he helped bottle up the middle order with his fastish offbreaks and earned a bonus while bowling the dangerous Botham. Later, during India's chase, Yashpal contemptuously flicked Willis for six during a crucial third-wicket stand with Mohinder Amarnath. That, like Azad's shooter, was to become an indelible memory of India's glory run.
Four years later it was England's turn to eliminate India in front of their home fans with 35-run win at the Wankhede Stadium in the Reliance World Cup semi-final.
India qualified for the semis on the back of Sunil Gavaskar's swan song and Chetan Sharma's hat-tricks, but when they reached Bombay they contrived to lose the plot. After Kapil Dev asked England to bat on a tricky surface, Graham Gooch and Mike Gatting got down and dirty and swept and pulled themselves a 117-run alliance in 19 overs. That paved the way for a total of 254 that proved too much for India's vaunted batting line-up, missing Dilip Vengsarkar with a stomach bug. Kris Srikanth and Navjot Singh Sidhu, dashers alike, were not able to pinch a single boundary and the pressure built up. Eddy Hemmings ended the match with 4 for 21 in 34 balls and England, though sheer commitment, dashed the defending champions' aspirations of a place in the final.
Since then, England have only reached a World Cup final once (in 1992) while India have made it twice - in 2003 when they were crushed by Australia and 2011 when they beat Sri Lanka to become world champs.
India and England have both made the final of an ICC Champions Trophy in the past, but ended up losing. At Nairobi in 2000, a Chris Cairns-inspired New Zealand surprised India and at The Oval in 2004, England would have lifted the title if not for a heroic ninth-wicket partnership between Courtney Browne and Ian Bradshaw.
Fittingly, the two best teams in the final edition of the Champions Trophy are in the final. England have played very good cricket, inspired by their bowling talisman James Anderson, and in conditions more tailored to their bowlers the hosts they are serious contenders. India, the world champions, are unbeaten in the tournament and a win away from achieving the distinction of holding both ODI titles.
So far the tournament has been uninspiring, save for a couple matches early on. A repeat of that epic 2002 Natwest final would be a fitting send-off to the tournament once regarded as the mini World Cup. That match, after all, helped transform the shape of India's future as an ODI force to be reckoned with. Here's for an encore.
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