Most international captains would give anything in exchange if you told them that they will finish their career with one major trophy at an International Cricket Council event. It’s the dream that many a young cricketer start their career with. By the English summer of 2013, however, a certain Mahendra Singh Dhoni had already lifted not one, but two major trophies as the Indian captain: 2007 World T20 and 2011 World Cup.
But he was not done yet. Captain Cool had one more rabbit to pull out of his hat.
On June 23, India clinched the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy with a thrilling five-run victory over hosts England in a rain-hit final in Birmingham. The win gave Dhoni the unique record of being the first captain to win three world titles and complete the white-ball full house for major titles in cricket.
After persistent rain reduced the contest to a 20-over affair, India made 129/7 and in a rollercoaster run-chase, England were restricted to 124/8 as the match went down to the wire.
Ravindra Jadeja (33 no and 2/24) made another all-round contribution which proved to be telling in the context of the match.
And, given that the match was played in Birmingham, the sizeable Indian crowd erupted in joy when R Ashwin (2/15) finished the final over with James Tredwell unable to hit the required six off the last delivery. Even the usually calm Dhoni jumped in joy as the delirious Indian players hugged each other while some were busy collecting souvenir stumps to mark another remarkable chapter in Indian cricket history.
This was India’s second Champions Trophy title having won the first one jointly with Sri Lanka back in 2002. That India won the championship two days before the 30th anniversary of their maiden World Cup triumph on June 25, 1983 made it even more special.
India got a big breakthrough when skipper Alastair Cook guided one to Ashwin at first slip off Umesh Yadav’s bowling. England’s form-man Jonathan Trott (20) hit a couple of sweetly timed boundaries but Ashwin got the better of him.
Coming from round the wicket, he drew Trott forward with an off-break that pitched on leg-stump and turned as Dhoni completed a smart stumping.
From 28/2, England were reduced to 40/3 as Ashwin accounted for Joe Root down the leg side. It was another delivery tossed in line of the leg-stump as Root mistimed a pull-shot and was holed in the deep by Ishant Sharma.
Ian Bell (13) was then adjudged stumped off Jadeja’s bowling despite TV replays showing that the batsman was perhaps unlucky.
England, however, recovered thanks to Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara and seemed to be heading for a famous home win. But the Indian captain pulled off another miracle move, handing Ishant Sharma the 18th over in which both the set batsmen were dismissed. The pacer had a torrid time till then but, just like that, the match was back in India’s favour. Ashwin sealed the deal for India with a superb final over.
India deservedly emerged champions as Dhoni added another feather to his cap, in a tournament that will be forever remembered for the rise of Rohit Sharma, the opening batsman.
“This means a lot because we were playing one of the best sides and also the kind of match that we had won,” Dhoni had said back then. “To beat England in a 130-odd game is very difficult.”
“There were also quite a number of players who were making a comeback and wanted to do well desperately and be part of the team. There are a few who wanted to do well and have a settled position in the side.”
Indeed, under Dhoni’s captaincy, this will remain another memorable moment that will be talked about for a long time.
With PTI inputs