The final of the Champions Trophy was all about one team holding their nerves under pressure, and another side losing it. India were always on the back foot after they scored at under seven runs an over in what turned out to be a 20-20 affair owing to the unpredictable English weather. But England, who never batted as if they were the home side, literally made heavy weather of the target, and had to be content as runners-up of the Champions Trophy at home for the second time in 10 years.
To sum up the match in a nutshell, it were India’s spin bowlers who made the big difference. Of course, the pitch at Birmingham offered some unexpected turn, but the Indian spinners still had to utilise the helpful conditions, which they did brilliantly. Ravichandran Ashwin, who has played himself into form with a very good spell against the Sri Lankans, was top class yet again. It were his dismissals of Jonathan Trott (superbly stumped by MS Dhoni) and Joe Root, that brought India right back into the match.
Ravindra Jadeja, who has been exceptional with the ball right through the tournament, also played a big part in India’s win, delivering again with the ball. While he got the ball to turn prodigiously and kept the batsman under check, Jadeja also ensured that England were under constant pressure, grabbing the wickets of Ian Bell and Jos Buttler at key moments. In tandem, Jadeja and Ashwin saw to it that India’s small score looked much bigger. Although the seamers did not have a lot to do, Umesh Yadav’s early dismissal of Alastair Cook was crucial in giving the team a much-needed boost and the top. Also, while Ishant Sharma was erratic, it were his two quick wickets that swung the game in India’s favour at the end.
Earlier in the day, India found the going very tough with the bat. Not only did they lose the toss and were asked to bat first in challenging conditions, but having to come in and go out constantly due to the rain also affected their rhythm. England also bowled exceedingly well at the start of the innings to keep the Indians in check. Stuart Broad getting rid of Rohit Sharma early meant that India got their first poor start in the Champions Trophy, and that too in the final.
Under the circumstances, Shikhar Dhawan’s performance was going to be most crucial. But, after he fell playing a cameo, India stumbled losing their middle order for very little. The game seemed to have gone away from India’s grasp when Ravi Bopara turned to be surprise success factor with the ball for the Englishmen. However, this is where the partnership between Virat Kohli and Jadeja came in very handy. The duo combined to find a few much-needed boundaries for India, and even though it seemed India had fallen short at the halfway mark, the way they bowled and fielded made the task doubly difficult for England.
All said and done, England did have the game totally in the grasp when the wellset Bopara and Morgan were at the crease, but once they fell, England pressed the panic button, and India were good enough to throttle them.
--By A Cricket Analyst