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

Dhoni rejoices after long hard Sunday

The sight of MS Dhoni jumping triumphantly as James Tredwell failed to connect with the final ball of the match will become etched in the mind, just like his iconic six two years back that helped India to the World Cup.

But even on that April evening in Mumbai, Dhoni had not celebrated in such an exhilarating fashion as he did as India won the Champions Trophy. Dhoni later explained why he let his guard down at the end of a long, long Sunday.

"This means a lot because we were playing one of the best sides and also the kind of match that we had won," Dhoni said. "To beat England in a 130-odd game is very difficult."

Although India entered the final as the only unbeaten team, playing England on home soil against their quality fast bowling attack was a challenge that was altogether different. Add to that the pressure of playing a final of a world tournament.

Questions had been asked of Dhoni on Saturday if the Indian middle order, which had not done much batting in the tournament, could stand up to the task if the top order failed. Dhoni responded by saying his batsmen would need to play the situation.

Yet the Indian middle order crumbled under pressure only barring some late fire fighting from Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja. The Indian target seemed small. Dhoni agreed that the frequent rain interruptions did act as a distraction.

"After every few overs our batsmen had to come off," he said. "People talk about getting set, getting used to the pace and then playing the big shots but that was never the case. Whenever the batsmen felt they were set, they had to come off and we had a break of 15-20 minutes. That never allowed us to gain any kind of momentum or build partnerships which were needed. And that was reflected when the middle order went in to bat. It was the main reason why we ended up scoring less than what we ended up scoring than what we had liked to score."

Before India began their defence, Dhoni pointed out upfront to his players that the only way India could win was by working hard and working to the plans: "Before going in I said, Let us firstly get rid of the feeling that it is a 50-over format. It is a 20-over game. We have seen in IPL that 130-run can be very difficult target to achieve."

He also asked them to not to look for the rain to act a saviour. "God is not coming to save us," Dhoni told his team in the huddle. "If you want to win this trophy we will have to fight it out. We are the number one-ranked side so let us show it that they will have to fight for these 130-odd runs. So let us not look for any outside help."

The key was not allow England to build the partnerships, hence it was important to see the back of two batsmen, Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott, both classical and highly successful Test batsmen, as quickly as possible.

"Trott was a very important wicket," Dhoni said. "Cook also. They are two batsmen who look to play through the innings and the others rotate around them. That means if they get they get a good partnership going they can play freely."

The fact that he is the only captain to have won all three global limited over tournaments is something Dhoni will admit is a special feeling. According to him there were similarities in the way India won the 2007 World Twenty20 and the Champions Trophy because the players were hungry to succeed and that had helped raise the overall spirit of the squad.

"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," he said. "There are a few who wanted to do well and have a settled position in the side."

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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