England v India, Champions Trophy, final, Edgbaston June 23, 2013

England architects of own downfall

With 20 to win from 16 balls and six wickets in hand, England choked like a consumptive goat wolfing a bucket of marbles

And so the wait goes on. England have now lost in the final of five global ODI tournaments - three World Cups and two Champions Trophies - and remain the only side who were involved in this event not to have won a global ODI competition.

This result will hurt. It will hurt not just because they came so close, but because they will know that they were, to a large extent, the architects of their own downfall.

With 16 balls remaining, England required only 20 more runs with six wickets in hand. They will never have a better opportunity. But then they choked like a consumptive goat wolfing a bucket of marbles to lose four wickets for three runs in 14 balls. England are in no position to chuckle at South Africa's reputation as "chokers".

There will be a temptation to blame umpiring decisions, the shortened nature of the game and the absence of a couple of key players for this defeat. It is true that some of those factors might have been relevant - Kevin Pietersen making a century for Surrey even as England were collapsing provided a reminder, should any be required, of his value - but none of them inflicted the fatal blow.

The truth of the matter is that when the pressure was at its greatest, England crumbled. An old failing against the spinning ball was exposed once more as England looked, for a time, as if they were back in Colombo last October or in the UAE groping in the dark against the turning ball.

The batsmen will, as ever, bear the brunt of the criticism. Probably rightly so, too. The bowlers had performed admirably to keep India to an under-par total with Ravi Bopara sustaining his fine form in his latest incarnation as an international player. James Anderson, whose figures suffered for mis-fields and edges, was also excellent.

Yet it was telling that the eventual margin of defeat - five runs - was exactly the same number of runs that England gave away in overthrows. Twice a failure to back-up adequately was punished, with Eoin Morgan failing to back-up an errant throw from Tim Bresnan that cost England four and then Morgan throwing wide when the batsman was comfortably home and conceding another single. England also conceded four wides. You do not have to be a mathematical genius to work out the avoidable damage that caused.

There were other factors. Jonathan Trott's failure to cling on to a catch offered by Virat Kohli, Trott's stumping off a leg side wide and an Asian-style pitch that offered so much turn that India could hardly believe their fortune. The British really are a hospitable bunch.

But perhaps the incident that will provoke most debate was the stumping of Ian Bell. Replays suggested Bell, dragging his back foot, was unfortunate to be given out. Certainly Alastair Cook was unimpressed with the verdict of TV umpire, Bruce Oxenford, stating: "I felt it was a poor decision. Maybe the umpire saw it differently. It looked pretty clear that it was in."

But on reflection, England may recall that a close no-ball call went their way in the crucial match against New Zealand. Besides, Bell had never settled and was far from certain to lead England to victory had he survived. It did not look a good decision, but to pinpoint it as a turning point may be wishful thinking. It was the fifth-wicket partnership that should have led England to victory and the Bell incident is, largely, a red-herring. The best sides tend to encourage a "no excuses" culture.

It is no coincidence that India were the only unbeaten side in the tournament. They were not at their best for much of this game but, at key moments, they held their nerve better than England. It is often such factors that define these games.

They could hardly have asked for more familiar conditions, either. Cheered on by a full house crowd overwhelmingly dominated by their supporters - "we didn't have much support out there," Cook said afterwards - their spinners gained sharp turn from the dry surface and exploited it very effectively.

Still, it will frustrate England that they had earned themselves a position from which they should have won. India may have proved themselves the best team in this competition, but England will know that they squandered a wonderful chance to take this competition.

Afterwards Cook admitted that the defeat represented his "lowest moment" in his career as England captain so far.

"We were almost there," Cook said. "It was in our hands. From the position we were in, you back yourself to win more times than you do to lose. We had high hopes of achieving something really special. We had the opportunity. It's a tough pill to swallow. Clearly, us as a batting unit, we'll be looking at ourselves going, what could we have done better?"

But Cook also expressed his faith in his side and his pride in their achievement in reaching the final. Most of this squad, he said, will be involved when the next global ODI event comes around, in Australia and New Zealand in 2015.

"The majority of the squad will be pretty similar in 2015," Cook said. "There were six other teams involved in this competition that would have liked to be in the situation we were in at the start of the day.

"I'm proud of the way the lads have fought. We've been under a fair bit of pressure in this tournament. A lot of criticism and flak have flown our way, yet we got to the final. We played some good cricket; we just couldn't quite get over the line."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo