It would be a major surprise if the Sabina Park and Queen’s Park Oval crowds prove as patient and as tolerant in the face of inclement weather as was the largely Indian Edgbaston crowd yesterday.
“England rains,” wrote one Twitter user, “but India reign.”
There were jokes aplenty before India sneaked home ahead of England by five runs in a Champions Trophy final that, thanks to the weather, came this close to not coming off. And the damp crowd’s mood never soured.
“Now it’s clear why England tried to invade the world,” ran another tweet. “They just wanted some place where they could play five days of cricket in peace.”
The ICC, the butt of heavy criticism for their failure to arrange a reserve day, did all in their power to ensure a result, including taking the unprecedented step of modifying the rules concerning playing conditions. In the event, without the extension of the playing time to accommodate at least a 20-over-per-side game, the trophy would have had to be shared by the two finalists.
That would have been one way to give the home side a first success in ICC 50-over competitions; even their most ardent supporters, one suspects, might have been miffed at this questionable stratagem for breaking the long-running English drought, a naughty word in the context of the prevailing near-flood conditions.
Having lost the toss, India were always going to be up against it, particularly as the drizzle continually interrupted the early proceedings to leave their innings without momentum. But despite the early loss of Rohit Sharma, whose partnership with Shikhar Dhawan has been extremely productive throughout the tournament, India did not implode completely.
“Technique is overrated,” declared Indian icon Sunil Gavaskar last week during the second of the two semi-finals when the ball was moving around appreciably, “it’s temperament that separates the men from the boys.”
But without abandoning technique, two 24-year-olds, Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja, neither of whom had had any substantial time in the middle in their team’s four previous matches, posted a 47-run sixth-wicket partnership off just 33 balls to show England who is man.
Essentially, their stand was responsible for buying Dhoni’s side, 66 for 5 in the 13th over, the psychological security of a 130-run target that many sides had successfully defended at home in the IPL.
The modest total proved beyond Alastair Cook’s boys. Eoin Morgan (33 off 44) and Ravi Bhopara (39 off 40) took the homesters from 46 for 4 to within 20 runs of their target before being dismissed off successive balls by Ishant Sharma. It is a moot question whether, with 28 runs needed off the last three overs, any calculating captain would have asked Ishant to bowl at that stage; his first three overs had gone for 27 runs.
And when the scorers recorded 0-6-wd-wd after the first four deliveries, there must have been a certain degree of queasiness in Dhoni’s gut where the idea to use Sharma (I) had arguably been spawned.
But Ishant’s over turned the game on its head. From 102 for 4 with 18 balls left, England were soon 113 for 8 with eight balls to go.
At 46 for 4, TV Umpire Bruce Oxenford had surprisingly ruled in India’s favour on an appeal for a stumping against Ian Bell off Jadeja. At 115 for 8, the Australian also adjudged Stuart Broad not out on an appeal off a Ravichandran Ashwin delivery. I am sure, as we unresponsible Trinis like to say, that the Broad verdict might not have been so much about helping England, (which, in the end, it did not) but about making justice appear to be done.
And justice was done. India won. Within half-an-hour of Dhoni’s men completing their fifth victory on the trot, Jadeja (12 wkts) and Dhawan (363 runs) had received the golden ball and bat respectively and the exultant Indian victors were donning their white jackets before collecting their championship medals.
In Jamaica next Sunday and again in Port-of-Spain on July 5, Dwayne Bravo and his World T20 champions meet the Champions Trophy champions in the four-match Tri-nations series. The new skipper will doubtless be hoping to, like former England captain Michael Vaughan at yesterday’s final, “spot 6 (West Indian) fans inside (the Oval)!!!!!!”
And he will be hoping more than ever that the home side can rein in the rampant visitors and perhaps see them not don a white jacket but wave a white flag.