x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Champions Trophy: Clouds part for MS Dhoni's men to shine at Edgbaston

India's MS Dhoni became the first captain to have led his team to victory in all major ICC tournaments when his side beat hosts England by five runs in the Champions Trophy final, successfully defending 129, writes Anand Vasu.

Virat Kohli, centre, and his India teammates celebrate beating England in the ICC Champions Trophy final on Sunday at Edgbaston cricket ground in Birmingham, England. Jon Super / AP Photo
Virat Kohli, centre, and his India teammates celebrate beating England in the ICC Champions Trophy final on Sunday at Edgbaston cricket ground in Birmingham, England. Jon Super / AP Photo

India 129 England 124

India wins by 5 runs

Birmingham // After nearly six hours spent watching dark clouds spit down on Edgbaston, a voluble India-centric crowd were treated to a frenetic 20-over final of the last Champions Trophy in which the team they supported squeaked home in the tightest of twilight finishes.

MS Dhoni became the first captain to have led his team to victory in all major ICC tournaments – the 50-over World Cup, the World Twenty20 and the Champions Trophy, buttressing his credentials as a leader of men, when his India side beat hosts England by five runs in Sunday's final, successfully defending 129.

When the toss happened as scheduled at 10am local time (1pm UAE) on a windy morning, it appeared the weather boffins had got it wrong, and with a full 50-over game on the cards under cloudy skies Alastair Cook put India in to bat.

From that moment on the players had to be content watching from the confines of the dressing room until a 20-over game –made possible by the extension of the cut off to 8.30pm – got under way at 4.20pm.

From then on, though, there was no shortage of action. England bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad, first up, were sharp, and Rohit Sharma was the first to suffer, losing his stumps to an airy drive.

Two brief interruptions for rain ensured that the batsmen did not have a chance to settle, but Shikhar Dhawan showed that he was up for the big final, rising in the air to uppercut Broad for the first six of the game.

While Dhawan continued his remarkable run in the tournament, Ravi Bopara triggered an unlikely collapse and India went from 50 for one to 66 for five.

Dhawan (31 from 24) slapped one to cover, and Suresh Raina and Dhoni fell off a double-wicket maiden. Raina holed out to mid-on and Dhoni carved one to third-man.

At that point, England were well on top, and it took an innings of high quality from Virat Kohli and one of remarkable composure from Ravindra Jadeja to revive India.

Kohli was at his beautiful best drilling the ball all along the turf through cover, and when he picked a Broad short ball early and smacked it deep into the stands at square-leg, setting Jadeja off.

A full ball from Anderson was met with the cleanest of Jadeja swings and the ball disappeared over long-off.

Kohli, with his 43, and Jadeja, with a late 33 from only 25 balls, pushed India along to 129 for seven, a total that gave them a fighting chance.

And how they fought: fielders in the circle swarmed all over the England batsmen, attacking everything that came their way, and after the pace and swing of Umesh Yadav had accounted for Cook, the spinners put a lid on the scoring and applied pressure.

With the ball gripping the surface, turning sharply, and affording the odd bit of extra bounce, Ravichandran Ashwin set to work, having Jonathan Trott stumped down the leg side off the second ball of his spell.

Joe Root, who was stifled by close-in fielders and worked over by Ashwin, top-edged a pull to fine-leg.

When Jadeja won the tightest of lbw decisions from third umpire Bruce Oxenford to send Ian Bell back, England were 46 for four in just the ninth over.

In their first spells, Ashwin and Jadeja had combined figures of 5-1-14-3, and it was only the introduction of Raina's part-time offbreaks that released the pressure.

A 64-run partnership between Eoin Morgan and Bopara briefly threatened India's sub-par score

But when Ishant Sharma dismissed both batsmen in the 18th over, England choked.

They lost four wickets for just three runs in the space of eight balls, leaving themselves needing 15 off the final over, bowled by Ashwin.

England's lower order swung at everything, and when six were needed off the last ball, the game had gone the complete distance.

James Tredwell heaved at one that Ashwin held back, and the turn took the ball past the bat, leaving England stranded at 124 for eight.

Anand Vasu is managing editor at Wisden India.

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