England's wait for an ICC ODI title continued as they lost a rain affected 20 over game by 5 runs. Rana Malook saw events unfold.
George Dobell : "Architect of own downfall"
For those patient enough to wait for that delayed flight which eventually arrived 7 hours late, the ICC champions trophy final did deliver an exhilarating contest. It's easy to moan and groan about why there was no reserve day, why it was held at Edgbaston and not Lords, why it wasn't shared et al but none of that mattered for the cricket observer who merely wanted to see the two sides compete. A 50 over match was obviously preferred but a twenty over bash was a just reward for the insanely patient crowds that had hung around for the whole day.
For the neutral observer it was a surreal event in that despite the final being held at an English venue, the crowd was overwhelmingly Indian. Only possible explanation that comes to mind is that the majority of the English fans were too pessimistic about the prospect of play and left around 2pm. With scores of Indian fans without tickets outside, probably not before making a decent profit on their tickets. That meant virtually a home final for India in England. Something Alistair Cook picked up on in the post match interview: "There wasn't much support for us out there. There were a lot of Indian fans, but that's no excuse for why we lost". Whilst the England captain rightly deflected blame away from the crowd factor, the lack of support would've definitely confused many of the players on the field.
For all the pre-match talk of the Indian lower order being under prepared, it was the England lower batting order which faltered as England slipped at key moments in the game, which all contributed collectively to affect the outcome. England's bowlers did a good enough job in the twenty allocated overs. However their fielding and lower order batting crumbled under pressure. Here are a few of those key moments.
3rd over Overthrows: When Dhawan got a thick inside edge and took a risky single, a run out was a distinct possibility, it would've left India on 11-1 with Dhawan back in the shed. Poor fielding from Bresnan however led to an overthrow which cost England 5 runs. England lost the game by 5 runs, proving that in the shorter format fielding is as important as the other disciplines.
18th, Over Trott drops Kohli. Ravi Bopara's bowling had put India against the ropes and before the 18th over India were on 97-5. Broad started the over well, conceding only 1 off the first two balls. Kohli was then dropped by Trott at short third man which also cost a run. Tellingly Kohli hit Broad's last ball of the over for a huge six over the midwicket boundry. Once again a crucial fielding mishap which would've floored India on 97-6 but instead left them on 106-5.
Ashwin Bamboozles Trott England's number three had been England's batting ace of spades in the tournament up until this match. His battle with Ashwin was an important psychological duel that would affect both teams morale and confidence. Ashwin thus provided a telling blow when he seduced Trott down the wicket with a ball that dipped and spun past him for an easy stumping by Dhoni. It was the football equivalent of a drop of shoulder and sprint past the stranded defender.
Root failure Ian Bell's controversial stumping somewhat deflected the attention away from Joe Root's mishap with the bat. The Yorkshireman is undoubtedly a very talented young batsman, however under such pressure situations the true metal of world class players is unveiled. England's faith in batting Root at four (ahead of the likes of Morgan and Bopara) did NOT pay off when it mattered the most. When Root arrived at the crease the equation was 100 needed off 90 balls. The run rate pressure on him was not as high as say Bopara's who came in with England needing 84 off 68. "He's young, he'll learn and do better next time" is a popular response from some. Reality is, you can't train or coach someone to tackle that kind of pressure, much like you can't coach a player to score a penalty in a World cup final after weeks of practice. England will probably go with the "he'll learn stance". Looking back they have now lost 5 World ODI finals, are they backing the wrong horses? Did history repeat itself yesterday? Will England learn from this? These are three questions that require at least some thought.
Broad initiates Choking The answers to understanding choking lie in observing cricket behavior displaying the opposite. What do world class cricketers do in high pressure situations? As it happens, history is littered with batsmen who've displayed almost superhuman powers of poise, concentration, temperament and coolness. Dhoni's innings in the world cup final two year's ago instantly comes to mind. Choking essentially is the opposite of that.
Broad is England's T20 captain and many England fans will question his leadership qualities once again after an innings in which he folded. Broad walked out to the middle after Buttler had played a shot likely to give him nightmares for months to come. The equation was 18 runs off 12 balls, not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but not a situation which required panic and spontaneous combustion. Yet Broad from his first ball appeared hellbent on doing just that. His first delivery was a length ball on off stump which he absolutely smashed straight to cover and called for a suicidal run. It was like watching a lorry overtake another lorry on a national speed limit country road. Bresnan was most likely still reeling from that near death experience as a few seconds later he was run out thanks to some quick thinking from Rohit Sharma at cover.
The minute or so wait for the final over Broad did compose himself enough to hit a boundry from the second ball of the Ashwin over, which gave England fans hope. That was short lived. The equation was 11 runs from 4 balls, Broad needed to step up and face all 4, it's what Dhoni would've done. The manner in which he sprinted to a single after mishitting the next ball to cover was thus disappointing.
He left Tredwell to score 10 off 3, rest his history. England needed him to refuse the run and back himself to hit a six or two. He didn't. He couldn't. He wouldn't. Take your pick.
image: © ell brown