On a bizarre Sunday in wet Birmingham, India's skills in the Twenty20 format trumped England's as they kept their bearings in a 20-overs-a-side shootout to lay their hands on the 50-over Champions Trophy.
A long and frustrating day ended with India triumphing in brilliant scenes after England collapsed in pursuit of a target of 130 to add another day of heartbreak in their 603-match history without an ICC trophy. It was a strange day, by all accounts, and the outcome saw India win by five runs to achieve the rare double of winning the World Cup and Champions Trophy in front of a loyal group of fans that braved the rain and chilly weather to watch their team lift their spirits.
It was an incredible end to a stop-start day, during which the ICC even added on 75 minutes of play to try and ensure a finish. After several rain delays and tireless work from the Edgbaston ground staff, the final got underway with India put in to bat but it was England who shone amid the haze by keeping MS Dhoni's team to what appeared at the half-way mark as a sub-par total.
Indian team after winning the ICC Champions Trophy. (AFP Photo)
Play was pushed back from its original start time of 3:30pm IST until 8:50pm, at which point England's fast bowlers were given the two new balls nearly six hours after England captain Alastair Cook had opted to to field considering the amount of the water Edgbaston had taken. Stuart Broad struck in the fourth over, bowling Rohit Sharma for 9 as the batsmen wafted at a length delivery (19 for 1). Broad's opening first two overs (2-0-7-1) helped deliver a good start for England and India managed just one boundary in the first five overs.
Play was momentarily stopped four deliveries into the sixth over due to a passing shower, with India 27 for 1, after which Shikhar Dhawan uppercut the fifth over third man for six. Heavier rain put a spanner in the works after four deliveries, this time resulting in 25-minute delay. With dark clouds ominously hovering overhead, the chances of a full match were always in severe doubt and sure enough, a final
India lost a flurry of wickets quickly after the resumption as England's bowlers put a lid on their momentum. Dhawan, the tournament's leading run-getter, firmly swatted boundaries off James Tredwell but fell to Ravi Bopara, hitting to extra cover for 31 off 24 balls. Dinesh Karthik (1) top-edged a sweep off Tredwell before Bopara struck twice in a terrific maiden 13th over. Off the second ball Suresh Raina (1) swiped Bopara into Cook's lap at mid-on and off the last Dhoni departed for 0 as he picked out Tredwell at third man. India had lost 4 for 16 in 28 balls.
The pressure created by Bopara meant India managed three runs in three overs, which left Virat Kohli with plenty to do. He began by crunching Bopara through extra-cover and square leg but with Bopara (4-1-20-3) and Tredwell (4-0-25-1) bowling crucial spells India struggled to find the boundary regularly. Kohli got a life on 36 when Jonathan Trott spilled an overhead catch at short third man off Broad, and proceeded to pull the same bowler for six to put 100 on the board. Looking to hit out, he mistimed James Anderson to Bopara at long-off for 43. Ravindra Jadeja struck two sixes during his unbeaten 33 off 25 that proved decisive, and soon he was playing an excellent role with the ball.
England's top three do not play T20Is and when the chase stumbled to 46 for 4 the difference in the two sides assumed far greater significance. Cook (2) steered Umesh Yadav to R Ashwin at first slip, Trott (20) was smartly stumped down the leg side by Dhoni off an Ashwin wide and the immensely talented Joe Root made 7 before he top-edged a sweep off Ashwin to deep square leg. Ian Bell was then given out in questionable circumstances by the third umpire Bruce Oxenford. Having made room to drive Jadeja through the off side, Bell missed and was ruled out stumped though replays showed his back foot might just have gotten down by the time the bails came off.
Bopara and Eoin Morgan forged a stand of 64, the highest of the match. Morgan offset the bowlers with clever dinks and reverse-paddles, the pick of the lot being forceful shot off Raina, while Bopara swung at deliveries heading down the leg side. Jadeja and Ishant Sharma were swung effortless for sixes and Bopara's running between the wickets was excellent as the pair turned the heat back on India.
That's when Dhoni took a risk in persisting with Ishant despite an 11-run 15th over, a move that proved match-winning. Morgan pulled the second ball for six, Ishant bowled two consecutive wides. Then the double-whammy. In consecutive deliveries, Ishant had Morgan (33) caught at midwicket and Bopara (30) at square leg by the same fielder, Ashwin. The game had turned India's way irresistably.
Jos Buttler's total brain fade, swishing at Jadeja and losing his stumps, was followed by the run out of Tim Bresnan in the penultimate over. Defending 15 off six balls, Ashwin allowed 10 to spark mad scenes from the Indian contingent either side of the boundary line. England, following three World Cup final defeats and one in the Champions Trophy final in 2004, were again left to wonder what went wrong.