Edgbaston: India's bowlers defended a modest 129 runs to consign England to a five-run defeat in a thrilling Champions Trophy final here on Sunday. Ravichandran Ashwin took 2 wickets for 15 runs and Ravindra Jadeja bagged 2 for 24 as England's heartbreak in the finals of ICC tournaments continued. (I told boys that God helps only those who help themselves, reveals Dhoni)
England lost four wickets in a space of eight balls as Ishant Sharma (2 for 36) turned the match on its head, ripping out the heart of the England middle order with back-to-back wickets in the 18th over. (Match highlights)
A 64-run fifth-wicket stand between Eoin Morgan (33) and Ravi Bopara (30) threatened to take the game away from India but both fell attempting poor strokes against an otherwise expensive Ishant. (Match in pics and Pics: An Indian invasion of Edgbaston)
Man of the Match Jadeja bowled Jos Buttler on a duck and Tim Bresnan was run out by Rohit Sharma for 2 as England needed 19 runs from 12 balls to win. Ashwin bowled a tight last over as India won their second Champions Trophy after sharing the title with Sri Lanka in 2002. (Shikhar Dhawan is the player of the tournament)
On a day when rain played havoc, the final, which started six hours behind schedule, was reduced to 20-overs-a side. After being put into bat, India struggled on a sluggish wicket. The team was rescued by a 47-run sixth-wicket stand between Virat Kohli (43) and Jadeja (33 not out).
In this Champions Trophy, India have showed their batting muscle in every game. But the script turned out to be different on Sunday evening. The Edgbaston wicket behaved like a typical sub-continental deck with balls coming slowly off the pitch and affording a lot of spin.
Offies Ashwin and part-timer Suresh Raina spun the ball like a top with several deliveries beating the face of the bat by sharp turn. But it was Umesh Yadav who gave the breakthrough in the second over.
Trying to late cut a rising ball on the off-stump, England skipper Alastair Cook (2) edged to Ashwin to first slip. The introduction of the spin twins of Ashwin and Jadeja made an immediate impact. Jonathan Trott, who was looking good, was stumped by Mahendra Singh Dhoni for 22 and Joe Root's departure for 7 added more pressure.
But for the Morgan-Bopara partnership, England's batting lacked application as India won a fascinating contest, thanks to their bowlers.
Earlier, India's batsmen failed to find their dazzling form as a combination of rain breaks and poor strokes plotted their decline.
When the toss happened on schedule, England decided to field under grey skies. But rain and chilly cross winds delayed the start of play. More than 25,000 fans, mostly Indians, waited patiently for the match to start as heavy drizzle lashed Edgbaston from time to time.
A brief period of sunshine late in afternoon raised hopes of a game and about an hour before the final cut-off time, it was announced that there would be a 24-over-a-side game.
As soon as the teams stepped out to warm themselves up, the rain and the covers were back. After a brief spell of heavy drizzle, the match was further reduced to a T20 contest, a minimum requirement for a result.
The Indian innings faced two rain breaks. Before the first came in the sixth over, Rohit Sharma (9) had been bowled through bat and pad by a beauty of an incoming delivery from Stuart Broad. The slide started after the second interruption in the seventh over.
On a dry pitch where the ball came on slowly, Bopara and off-spinner James Tredwell bowled a teasing line and length. The in-form Shikhar Dhawan gave the Indian innings some momentum, upper-cutting Broad for a six and then slamming Tredwell for a couple of boundaries. (Related read: Dhawan dedicates 'golden bat' to flood victims)
But Bopara tricked the left-hander into a soft dismissal. Dhawan spooned a slower ball straight to extra cover. The 27-year-old scored 31 off 24 balls. Between the 12th and the 14 overs, India lost three wickets and added just three runs.
Dinesh Karthik (6), Raina (1) and Dhoni (0) all fell to poor strokes as Bopara finished with impressive figures of 3 for 20, including a wicket-maiden.
Kohli, dropped on 36, defied the English attack as India looked for quick runs. He drove and pulled Bopara for boundaries and slapped Broad for a big six at mid-wicket. He however was out trying to clear long-off after James Anderson bowled a fuller ball.
Jadeja continued his good form and produced 33 crucial runs. He struck two fours and as many sixes in his 25-ball innings as England did well to restrict an in-form Indian batting line-up. Interestingly, in six Champions Trophy finals played so far, five had been won by teams batting second. England just didn't have the caliber to put it across India in a humdinger at Edgbaston.