England threw away a golden opportunity to win their first global one-day title in an extraordinary climax at Edgbaston, more Indian Premier League thriller than Champions Trophy final.
Four times before now, England have lost major finals in what is supposed to be the longer form of the limited overs game but none of them have been quite like this at a Birmingham ground transformed into the most Indian of venues.What should have been their fifth 50- or 60-over final was turned into a Twenty20 game by the awful mid-summer weather, but it was one that really should have brought England that elusive piece of ICC silverware.
Instead, from a position where England needed just 20 runs from their last 16 balls with Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara going great guns, they somehow handed India this ‘mini World Cup’ to go with the real thing.The key man in a drama that will haunt England was the erratic Ishant Sharma who seemed to have lost the trophy for his country during the 18th over of the nominal ‘home’ side’s reply to India’s below par 129 for seven.
When Morgan smashed Ishant for a huge six at the start of that pivotal over and then saw the bowler follow it with successive wides, India appeared to be in meltdown and England cruising to victory.Yet Morgan limply gifted Ravi Ashwin a catch at mid-wicket and then Bopara, who had hit two sixes of his own to follow his three wickets, found the same fielder off the next ball.Ishant gave Bopara, who questioned the height of his fateful delivery, an ugly and unnecessary send-off — and the game was all but up.
The 25,000 crowd had shown remarkable patience to wait throughout the showers until 4.20pm when this truncated final was finally able to start in the nick of time only because the ICC, sensibly, stretched the deadline of its allowed climax until 8.30pm.Otherwise, the trophy would have been shared and the lack of a reserve day for this final would have been a huge issue.The sound of booing when the names of England’s players were read out was a strange one on an English crowd but then this was no typical English audience.At least two thirds of the capacity crowd were supporting India and they created an atmosphere more akin to a one-day match in Mumbai than Birmingham at what is usually England’s most patriotic ground.
An Edgbaston pitch that was turning square by the end added to the feeling that, if it were not for the rain and chill, we could have been at the Wankhede Stadium rather than one of England’s most traditional settings.Those massed ranks of India fans had little to cheer during their team’s innings, twice interrupted by more rain, as all the short-form experience MS Dhoni’s team have gained in their IPL seemed to count for little on this surprisingly dry surface under leaden skies.There would have been long odds on the unlikely figures of Bopara and James Tredwell proving England’s key performers in the field yet this contrasting duo were at the centre of everything their team did well.
Bopara was, by common consent, lucky to be included in this England squad, but he has rescued his international career by being pivotal throughout this tournament with bat and ball and, yes, as the main ball ‘maintainer’ in the team.It was Bopara’s under-rated medium pace that clinched his surprise selection and here he became the most successful bowler in the England team with a double wicket maiden the highlight of his three for 20.So well did England’s attack do their jobs that 44 of the first 84 balls were not scored off while only three runs came off three overs between the 12th and 14th overs as three Indian wickets fell.
Two of them belonged to Bopara as Suresh Raina holed out to Alastair Cook and then Dhoni cut the Essex man into the safe hands of Tredwell at third man. The Kent captain, meanwhile, chipped in with the wicket of Dinesh Karthik before Virat Kohli with 43 off 34 balls at least gave his bowlers something to work with.Yet this was a game that would have been well within England’s reach but for a tale of what-might-have-beens.They had conceded five overthrows in rare fielding lapses, while spin was again their nemesis, with Ravindra Jadeja and Ashwin sharing four wickets. However, there was also a moment of real controversy.
Last week in Cardiff, Stuart Broad came perilously close to bowling a no ball that would have denied him the wicket of New Zealand’s Kane Williamson at a crucial time. This time, a contentious TV decision went against England.When Dhoni appealed for a stumping after Ian Bell had been lured forward by Jadeja, replays appeared to show his foot behind the line when the bails were disturbed. Somehow third umpire Bruce Oxenford thought otherwise and sent Bell on his way.That left England 46 for four and in big trouble but the revitalised Bopara and the cool Morgan had other ideas until Ishant’s decisive intervention.Chaotic dismissals for Jos Buttler and Tim Bresnan only added to the sense of doom for England as they fell six runs short of the 15 needed off the last over.Their long wait, standing now at 38 years and 17 attempts, to win a one-day trophy goes on. – DailyMail