The match looked to be as good as over. 17.3 overs into England’s chase they looked set to win their first ICC ODI event. Ishant Sharma had just been carted for a six. He followed it up with back-to-back wides.
The target was down to 20 runs off 15 balls with six wickets in hand and two set batsman. Then, Eoin Morgan mishit a shot, the ball was gobbled up by R Ashwin.
A distraught Ishant had given up, he didn’t feel like celebrating. Suddenly the fielders swarmed around him and celebrated. They couldn’t let up now. Not after they’d come so near.
Next ball, a rising one, Ravi Bopara, England’s hero of the match so far, went for a pull. Ashwin caught it again, his third catch of the innings.
Suddenly it didn’t look that unfathomable. Two balls after he'd almost given up Ishant was on a hattrick. The match had turned on its head.
England’s chase, which seemed to be faltering at the start, came to life when Morgan and Bopara were together in the middle. Now, the momentum had shifted irrevocably. There was no coming back from this. India held their nerve as England lost theirs.
The heroes of the show for India were the spin twins, Ravindra Jadeja and Ashwin. Following a cameo when India was batting, Jadeja was masterful with the ball in conditions which were favouring spin. Ashwin was near unplayable and returned figures of 2/15 off his 4 overs.
Earlier, India’s batting had to contend with notoriously playful weather that saw them leave the field and return on three occasions.
Rohit Sharma looked unsettled from the start and could have gone back earlier, but his outside edge off James Anderson went past first slip and raced away for a boundary. He didn’t last long though and in the next over was clean bowled by a Stuart Board delivery that swung in sharply.
Virat Kohli then joined Shikhar Dhawan in the middle. Their stint in the middle was a short one. Not because the partnership was broken, but rather because the heavens opened up again. The first ball after a 30-minute rain delay, Dhawan played an audacious upper cut.
The thing with Dhawan is that he stays true to that old cricket adage, if you slash, slash hard.
There was joke going around that he’s been the fortunate recipient of so many dropped chances that his bat probably doesn’t have any edges left. By the looks of it, the edges of his bat have more meat than the middle of most batsmen’s bats.
Dhawan’s brilliant run finally came to end as he hit part-timer Ravi Bopara straight into the hands of James Tredwell at extra-cover.
The wicket triggered a mini-collapse as India went from 50/1 to 66/5 in the space of four overs. Tredwell got rid of Dinesh Karthik, who couldn’t connect a slog-sweep. Then Bopara bowled the over of his life, a two-wicket maiden.
First, Raina tried to force the issue but could only guide the ball into the palms of Cook at mid-on. Then, MS Dhoni tried to slash the ball over third man but didn’t get the miles on it and was gobbled up by Tredwell.
At the other end, Virat Kohli was looking untroubled. His 34-ball 43 was punctuated with the shot of the match, a disdainful pull against a Broad delivery that was rising. The sound of the bat meeting ball echoed across the ground as the ball sailed into the second tier of the stands.
Off the first delivery of the next over, Ravindra Jadeja hit a shot that matched Kohli’s stroke. Clearing space, he drove an Anderson delivery over wide long-off. A six off Tim Bresnan in the final over helped India close out the innings with respectability and give the bowlers a total to defend. Jadeja remained unbeaten on 33 off 25 balls.