In a match restricted to 20 overs per innings due to almost six hours of rain delays, England were favourites after keeping India to 129 for seven. Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara put the home side well on the way to their first global one-day international title, but with 20 needed in 16 balls the pair fell to successive Ishant Sharma deliveries.
From 110 for four they subsided to 124 for eight as India closed out victory in front of an Edgbaston crowd that contained many ecstatic Indian supporters. A dejected Cook could not hide his disappointment. Asked if it was his worst moment with England, he said: "As a captain, yeah."
Cook added: "It's a tough pill to swallow at the moment. We had high hopes coming in today of achieving something special. Clearly from there you would back yourself to win more times than you would lose in that situation, but it shows how quickly games can change in Twenty20 when you lose a couple of wickets.
"We got close. I'm proud of the way the lads have fought from being under a fair bit of pressure in this tournament. Quite a lot of criticism and flak has been thrown our way and yet we got to the final and played some good cricket. We just couldn't quite get over the line."
Cook felt England were not solely responsible for their own downfall and was particularly aggrieved by third umpire Bruce Oxenford's decision to give Ian Bell out stumped. Television replays were far from conclusive, but the Australian came down in favour of the fielding side when decision time came.
Cook couched his response in reasonably reserved fashion but his position was clear. "I thought it was a poor decision," said Cook. "I only saw the replay a couple of times on the Belly one. Maybe he (Oxenford) saw a different angle to the one we saw. It loomed pretty clear that he was in."
Mahendra Singh Dhoni refused to let his players hope for rain and instead gave them the confidence to secure outright success as England fell short. He said. "I said 'God is not coming to save us, if you want to win the trophy we have to fight it out'."
Dhoni offered individual praise for man of the tournament and top run-scorer Shikhar Dhawan and leading wicket taker Ravindra Jadeja for their efforts in the competition.
"Shikhar is a slightly different character. He's a fun-loving guy but he backs himself to play big strokes. That has helped him in this tournament and he'll gain a lot from the way he has played over here. And Jadeja is someone who keeps it very simple. He looks to hit the right area and the ball does the talking."
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