India clinched the ICC Champions Trophy, in its last edition, with a nerve-wracking five-run victory over hosts England in a rain-hit final on Sunday, giving their captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the unique record of being the first captain to win three world titles.
After frustrating showers reduced the contest to a T20 affair, India first scored 129 for seven and then restricted England to 124 for eight in a topsy-turvy game that went down to the wire. Ravindra Jadeja (33 n.o. and 2-24) made another all-round contribution which proved to be telling in the context of the match.
The sizeable Indian crowd erupted in joy when Ravichandran Ashwin (2-15) finished the final over with James Tredwell unable to hit the required six off the last delivery.
Skipper Dhoni jumped in joy as the delirious Indian players hugged each others while the others were busy collecting souvenir stumps to mark another remarkable chapter in Indian cricket history.
This was India’s second Champions Trophy title having won the first one jointly with Sri Lanka back in 2002. That India won the championship two days before the 30th anniversary of maiden World Cup triumph back on June 25, 1983.
India got a big breakthrough when skipper Alastair Cook guided one to Ravichandran Ashwin at first slip off Umesh Yadav’s bowling. England’s form-man Jonathan Trott (20) hit a couple of sweetly timed boundaries but Ashwin got better of him.
Coming from round the wicket, he drew Trott forward with an off-break that pitched on leg-stump and turned as rival skipper Dhoni completed a smart stumping.
From 28 for two, it soon became 40 for three as Ashwin accounted for Joe Root with his ‘leg-theory’. It was another delivery tossed in line of the leg-stump as Root mistimed a pull-shot and was holed in the deep by Ishant Sharma.
Ian Bell (13) could consider himself unlucky as he got a raw deal from third umpire Bruce Oxenford. He was adjudged stumped off Jadeja’s bowling when TV replays showed that Bell had got his foot back before Dhoni was able to whip off the bails.
At 46 for four, England were in dire straits with their best T20 player Eoin Morgan (33) at the crease. Along with Ravi Bopara (30), the duo added 64 runs for the fifth wicket before Ishant dealt a double blow.
First he removed Morgan who fetched a slower to be caught by Ashwin at mid-wicket. Then he bowled a short one which was again gobbled by Ashwin standing at square leg this time.
From 110 for four, England slumped to 113 for eight losing four wickets in the addition of only three runs.
The last few overs turned out to be interesting as man-of-the-match Jadeja gave only four runs of the penultimate over and also got Jos Butler out.
With 15 required of the final over, Ashwin kept his cool to mix it up well and gave only 10 runs in the end.
Earlier, Indian top-order failed to deliver when it mattered the most as they were restricted to a modest 129 for seven by a disciplined England attack.
Couple of stoppages after the match finally started also didn’t help India’s cause. Barring in-form Shikhar Dhawan (31) and Virat Kohli (43, 34 balls, 4×4, 1×6), none of the other top-order batsmen made significant contribution after India were put into bat.
Kohli and Jadeja (33 n.o.)added 47 runs for the sixth wicket after India were reduced to 66 for five.
Ravi Bopara’s (3-20 in 4 overs) brilliant incisive spell in the middle overs proved to be invaluable for England’s cause as the largely untested Indian middle-order couldn’t stand up and be counted on the D-Day.
Rohit Sharma (9) yet again baffled one and all as he played an irresponsible shot off a Broad delivery which came in after pitching. Rohit didn’t have any footwork as he played across the line to get castled.
In-form Dhawan had no such worries as he started from where he had left against Sri Lanka in the semifinal. The first significant shot was a slash over backward point off Broad for a six.
The start-stop affair did hamper the proceedings and Dhawan hit a slog sweep off James Tredwell after the second rain interruption and followed with another deft reverse sweep to enter the 30’s.
However it was Bopara’s gentle seam-up stuff that brought about an end to Dhawan’s innings. The ball stopped on the left-hander who tried to make room to hoick it over cover but only managed to find Tredwell. Dhawan’s 31 came off 24 balls with two boundaries and a six but importantly he tried to attack the English bowlers despite interruptions.
The first 10 overs produced 59 runs at the expense of both openers.
Dhoni’s decision to send Dinesh Karthik (6, 11 balls) above himself and Suresh Raina was surprising considering the match was curtailed to 20 overs. Karthik struggled to get going during his brief stay as he was holed out trying a wild sweep shot as Eoin Morgan took a simple skier.
The watershed moment of the match came when Bopara struck twin blows dismissing both Raina and Dhoni in the 13th over of the innings.
Raina (1) was also done in by the slowness of the pitch as his attempted lofted shot over mid-on off Bopara never got the required elevation with skipper Alastair Cook taking a simple catch.
Dhoni (0) went for a big hard slash over point when Bopara dug one short but managed to find the fielder in the deep. From 50 for one, it suddenly became 66 for five.
Kohli carried manfully as India reached 100 in the 18th over. The best shot he hit was a six over deep mid-wicket of Broad. Jadeja took a leaf out of Kohli’s book to loft Anderson over extra cover.
Jadeja faced 25 balls for his 33 in which he hit two fours and two sixes. (PTI)