The hosts, still without a one-day international global tournament win after 38 years of trying and 17 attempts, reached 110 for four by the 18th over in pursuit of 129 for seven in a match reduced by rain from the scheduled 50 to just 20 overs per side.
But just as it seemed Ishant Sharma was about to panic in an over which began with a dot, six and then successive wides, it was England who lost both set batsmen to kickstart a collapse of four wickets for three runs in eight balls.
The disappointment was especially harsh on Ravi Bopara, who had taken three for 20 to help restrict India and then shared a stand of 64 in nine overs with Eoin Morgan on an awkward spinners’ pitch.
India therefore won this tournament outright for the first time – they shared the silverware with Sri Lanka in 2002 – and Ravindra Jadeja took the individual honours for his unbeaten 33 and two wickets.
He shared a stand of 47 with top-scorer Virat Kohli (43) and then combined with fellow frontline spinner R Ashwin to account for four English wickets at a cost of only 39 runs in their eight overs.
For England there was to be no maiden trophy in an International Cricket Council ODI competition, no instant success for captain Alastair Cook in his first tournament and no redemption for coach Ashley Giles – who also lost an agonising final against West Indies at The Oval nine years ago.
India appeared to have left themselves vulnerable with a stop-start innings, having had to wait more than six hours after Cook won the toss in the morning.
Bad weather almost prevented a contest of any description, until organisers extended the scheduled hours of play to allow for the minimum number of overs – and even then Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s batsmen were twice interrupted by showers. But they did not appear to help themselves either.
Tournament top run-scorer Shikhar Dhawan lost his opening partner Rohit Sharma, bowled when Stuart Broad nipped one into him to beat an attempted big hit before the first stoppage.
The introduction of Bopara then brought the prized wicket of Dhawan, mistiming a slower ball to cover.
Catcher James Tredwell soon doubled up when Dinesh Karthik’s slog-sweep steepled to short fine-leg for the first of three wickets in two overs.
India were beyond Plan A already, more so after Bopara’s double-wicket maiden – Suresh Raina crashing one straight into the hands of mid-on, and then the dangerous Dhoni upper-cutting to the third-man boundary to be caught for a duck, by Tredwell.
England had done precious little wrong – save for an early four overthrows – until Jonathan Trott dropped a sharp, head-high chance given by Kohli on 36 off Broad.
Kohli then hit the first of two Indian sixes in successive balls, picking up Broad over midwicket before Jadeja clubbed James Anderson high over long-off.
But Anderson then had Kohli well-held at long-off by Bopara, and 50 from the last five overs did not quite add up to the big finish it seemed India needed.
England’s reply was soon minus Cook, however, steering a catch to first slip where Ashwin took the chance neatly away to his right off Umesh Yadav.
Then Indian spin took over. Trott rushed past a wide at the start of Ashwin’s spell, and then the off-spinner had Joe Root mis-hitting an attempted pull to be caught low down at deep backward-square by Ishant.
The dismissal of Ian Bell was controversial and significant, stumped off Jadeja after third umpire Bruce Oxenford deliberated at length before deciding the batsman had very marginally not grounded his boot back behind the line as Dhoni completed more smart work.
Morgan and Bopara responded impressively, undaunted by a run rate which reached ten an over but after three sixes between them was only a more achievable eight – until Sharma had his say, with two slower balls. Morgan hit his to wide mid-on and, after crossing, Bopara pulled his to square-leg – Ashwin taking both catches.
When Jos Buttler was then bowled first ball aiming a big hit at Jadeja, and Tim Bresnan comically run out, the equation had suddenly got away from the hosts.
Broad and Tredwell did not give up but could not muster 15 to win from Ashwin’s last over as England lost their fifth ODI final.