Sunday, 23 June 2013

India beat England to clinch ICC Champions Trophy
BIRMINGHAM: It came down to the proverbial wire, but in the end all of England's melancholic weather and the T20-like drama could not deny India its share of joy in gloomy Birmingham on Sunday. From the start of the Champions Trophy early this month, they had been the team to beat here. In the end, they remained unbeaten.

Scorecard Match in Pics
India beat England to clinch ICC Champions TrophyIndia's players celebrate winning the ICC Champions Trophy final match against England at Edgbaston cricket ground, Birmingham on June 23, 2013. (AP Photo)

The only coveted trophy missing from India's cupboard - MS Dhoni's too - was finally won in dominating style as they signed off from the United Kingdom on the note that they had signed in. The men in blue had once shared this trophy with Sri Lanka in 2002 after being declared joint-winners because of a final marred by rain, but the  result wasn't quite appetite whetting.

The win over England by five runs, in a rain-shortened encounter that was unfair to India considering the three breaks in their innings and the sun was out when the hosts batted, once again affirmed their position as World Champions in the 50-over format. If this was indeed the last edition of the Champions Trophy, it will have to be an ode to a team that arrived here in the aftermath of extremely disturbing developments back home, enjoyed unparalleled fan-following here, looked the most dangerous side from Day One and won a final in which the odds were completely against them.

England will be in mourning. They came close to a win in the weather that best suited them only to be defeated for the fifth time in the final of a major ICC tournament.

Sunday's final was a farcical one indeed and nothing can be taken away from the organisers of the event - the ICC - in the manner in which they messed up with the schedule of the tournament. Since 2004, the Champions Trophy has been void of reserve days for the final and not even the preposterous English weather could help convince them otherwise.

It was a match that looked like it was played simply to get a result and compensate the sponsors and advertisers who may have paid handsomely for the tournament. The ICC technical committee in fact went ahead and extended the deadline to finish the game by three hours, instead of having a reserve day in place.

Chasing 129 for victory in 20 overs - reduced from 50 because of constant showers - England started on a shaky note, losing captain Alastair Cook to Umesh Yadav at the start of the innings. However, middle-order batsmen Eoin Morgan and Ian Bell resurrected the innings, bringing their side almost to the brink of a win. But once they left, the remaining batsmen caved in.

It was Dhoni's admirable captaincy - the way he rotated his bowlers, spread the field and kept the faith - that did the opponents in. R Ashwin's spell put England under severe pressure while Ravindra Jadeja and Ishant Sharma kept plucking wickets.

Earlier, India lost the toss and were put in to bat first. After losing an early wicket in opener Rohit Sharma, the team rode on Virat Kohli's 33-ball 43 and Jadeja's 21-ball 23 to post 129-7 in 20 overs. It was a mockery of the game as players walked in and out of the dressing rooms whenever the drizzle halted play.

Rain thrice stopped play but considering that it was a truncated game, the target set by India wasn't revised because the stipulated number of overs was possible. It was clearly unfair on Dhoni's team to bat in conditions that weren't just terrible but marred by continuous interruptions.

In the end, the deserving team won and firecrackers finally lifted the spirits at Edgbaston.

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