BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — India cemented its status as the king of one-day cricket — but needed to win what was effectively a Twenty20 international to do so.
With 16 balls remaining in a tense Champions Trophy final reduced to 20 overs per side because of persistent rain, England needed 20 runs as it chased down a revised target of 130 under floodlights at Edgbaston.
The English imploded, though, losing four wickets in the space of eight balls to fall short by five runs and miss out on a first global 50-over title. As fireworks exploded into the sky, India's players danced jigs of delight in front of a near-90 percent Indian crowd who could easily have been in Mumbai or Delhi. In a central English city with a big Indian population, they had just added the Champions Trophy to its 2011 World Cup title.
"This means a lot," said emotional India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. "To beat England in a 130-odd game was very difficult." Playing in the shadow of a match-fixing scandal back home and with a team supposedly in transition, India was given next to no chance coming into a tournament it had never won.
But they breezed in to the final with four straight wins and something of a swagger, and will have been viewed as the favorite when a flurry of showers shortened the match to a T20. However, India made just 129-7 after play finally started following the delay of nearly six hours, Virat Kohli making what proved to be a vital 43 and sharing a 47-run stand with Ravindra Jadeja. Ravi Bopara took 3-20 with his unassuming medium pace and England required less than 6.5 an over in its chase.
Just like they did in 2004 when they lost the Champions Trophy final to West Indies in the gloom of The Oval, the English let it slip. "Clearly from there, you would back yourself to win more times you'd lose in that situation but it shows how quickly games can change in T20 when you lose a couple of wickets."
After being reduced to 46-4 after nine overs, Eoin Morgan (33) and Bopara (30) led a valiant recovery in the face of some hostile field placings and spin bowling. Their partnership of 64 turned the tide England's way with three overs left. Then it all went wrong.
In a dramatic third-last over, Ishant Sharma bowled two wides in his first three balls but exacted major revenge by removing Morgan and Bopara in successive balls. He only narrowly missed snaffling a hat trick when a rising delivery skimmed past Tim Bresnan's chin.
Big-hitting Jos Buttler was then bowled first ball by Jadeja and Bresnan was run out for 2 two balls later when he crept out of the crease after botching a sweep. Four wickets had gone in eight balls for the addition of three runs and England needed 15 off the last over by Ravichandran Ashwin, who had been a thorn in its side with his slow left-armers.
Stuart Broad and James Tredwell could only manage nine, and India lifted the soon-to-be-defunct trophy for the first time, having shared it with Sri Lanka after a 2002 final that was washed out. "We have seen in the IPL and T20 format that 130 runs can be a very difficult target to achieve," Dhoni said. "I said (at the turnaround) that God is not coming to save us. If you want to win this trophy, you will have to fight this out. We are the No. 1-ranked side. Let's show that they have to fight for these 130 runs."
With the Indian fans still in raptures, India's players — adorned in white blazers — lifted the trophy with a backdrop of sparklers, ticker-tape and the popping of champagne corks. It felt like a major release, possibly born from the pressure the players were under in the specter of a corruption scandal that has engulfed the IPL over the past month.
They had to fight for the title. For the first time this tournament, India's batting lineup — which hadn't gone below No. 4 in four straight wins — struggled in the face of some tight bowling, particularly from Bopara.
The allrounder removed Shikhar Dhawan — voted the player of the tournament — for 31, soon after the dangerous opener had sent a lofted uppercut for six over backward point in one of the shots of the tournament, and then Suresh Raina (1) and Dhoni (0).
Thankfully for India, Kohli and Jadeja got the team out of a hole and England crawled into it. Cook was aggrieved at Ian Bell's dismissal — a stumping by Dhoni that needed the say-so of the third umpire.
"I thought it was a poor decision," said a visibly angry England captain. There was also an overthrow to the boundary by Tim Bresnan that added four crucial runs to India's total. England should still have made 130, though. It will take a while for the English to recover but they haven't got that time. The Ashes are just around the corner.