Edgbaston, June 23, 2013: Pinch yourself again and again. This match was completely out of the realms of reality. After the ICC – who hadn’t considered it fit to have a reserve day for the final – added 75 minutes to the rainy day to accommodate 20 overs in the final, both sides panicked in the compressed environment; Ravi Bopara was the bowling demon for England; India defended 129 with slip, gully and silly point for spinners; Ishant Sharma, the most expensive bowler, was the first to bowl out and took two crucial wickets in his last over; and MS Dhoni led superbly to become the first captain in the world to have won all ICC trophies.
The only aspects of this game remotely real were the effectiveness of R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, and the early fluency of Shikhar Dhawan and Jonathan Trott. Around them, everything went topsy-turvy. The pitch turned square, despite all his efficiency Jadeja didn’t attempt a crucial run-out, the third umpire seemed to make a big dubious call with Ian Bell’s stumping, but then again there was Dhoni making a superlative call under pressure.
You can spend hours debating it, and wonder how it worked. On this turner, Ishant had been the easiest bowler to hit. His three overs had gone for 27, and you asked yourself why he got even the fourth. That third had brought the target down to 48 off 30 thanks to a six smoked clean by Bopara. However, with three overs left and 28 to get – Umesh Yadav had two to go, Ashwin, Jadeja and Bhuvneshwar one each – Dhoni went to Ishant.
Even if Yadav had been injured, Bhuvneshwar – three overs for 19 – had one left. The only possible explanation for that choice could be that England would want to kill off the chase in ishant’s over and thus take an undue risk.
Dhoni’s hunch, though, seemed to be going bust after a pulled six and two wides from either side of the stumps: 20 off 16 now. Who knows how these things in big limited-overs matches work with Dhoni, but Ishant bowled a slower ball and Eoin Morgan mis-hit to midwicket. It was a front-of-the-hand slower ball, pretty much common fare in limited-overs cricket today, but Morgan didn’t pick it.
The next ball seemed even more innocuous on the face of it. Short ball, no sting, head high, pulled down clean, but straight to the fielder at square leg. Roll that dismissal back, though. And it is difficult to figure out the logic here, but there was no midwicket for that ball. That man inside the circle was at square leg, next to the umpire. Ishant Sharma was Dhoni’s new Joginder.
The bizarre events weren’t quite over. In the 19th over, Jadeja, almost unplayable and wise so far, had a chance to run the diving Stuart Broad out but he chose not to try. Jadeja could be forgiven a moment after having bowled well all through the tournament, after having scored the pivotal 33 after India had been 66 for 5, and after having begun India’s turnaround with the ball. That was India’s last mistake too.
In the 20th, bowled by Ashwin, when Stuart Broad hit a leg-side four, Dhoni brought everybody on the off side asking the batsman to clear it if he thought he was good enough. Broad wasn’t on this occasion. Surprisingly Broad didn’t try to dominate the strike, leaving Tredwell to get 10 off the last three balls. The only way England could have won was for Broad to hit two fours or a six, but two couples later the six off the last ball was a bridge too far for the lesser batsman on a turning pitch. The last ball was cue for an expressive celebration – by his standards – for Dhoni who has been through a tough time over the last two years.
India had won a thrilling final of what has been a good tournament, but all was not right. This was hardly the ideal match. The ICC had only tried to cover its backside by stretching the match to 8.30pm. This match should never have been played today after the amount of rain Edgbaston had taken, but there was no tomorrow. So we had a match that put both the sides out of their comfort zones. The Indian batsmen had no rhythm going in and out, and England were playing essentially a T20 with three men who don’t make the T20 side. Remember when the XIs were named at the toss, this was a 50-over game.
In the first exchange, though, India seemed to struggle more. On the wrong side of the toss, with two rain breaks in the first half of their innings, they couldn’t really have planned their innings, and soon found themselves struggling when it came to the run-rate. That brought panic, and Bopara was the beneficiary with the wickets of Dhawan, Suresh Raina and Dhoni – for his first duck in ODIs since October 2010. In the last seven overs, though, Virat Kohli and Jadeja brought India back with a punchy partnership of 47 off 33. Kohli couldn’t see India to the end, but Jadeja did, his knock including an inside-out six off James Anderson.
For some reason, the England batsmen panicked in the chase too. Trott was fluent, but spin brought the turnaround. Jadeja began with a tight fifth over, and Ashwin got Trott stumped in the next with a dipping offbreak outside leg. Kohli, at backward short leg, had begun to move even before Trott had had an opportunity to strike the ball, but the umpire either didn’t notice it or didn’t consider the movement significant enough to call it a dead ball. Had Trott connected and had Kohli caught it, scenes would have been less savoury.
In the next over came another less-than-ideal play. Bell was given out stumped when the third umpire couldn’t have been sure that the foot was in the air when the wicket was put down. England were so displeased Eoin Morgan even made a sign for the review.
Morgan managed to put it behind him and, with Bopara, nearly pulled off a special win with calculated hitting and smart running between the wickets. But that was before England imploded, losing four wickets for three runs. You can watch replays of that Ishant over that took out both Morgan and Bopara many times over, but will struggle to explain it logically. Sometimes you just can’t from the outside. Sometimes you have to pinch yourself. —- By: Sidharth Monga / Image © Getty Images
Share on Facebook