‘New Zealand deserve it, they put us under enough pressure and they were much sharper when it came to crunch moments.’
IMAGE: Mahendra Singh Dhoni goes for a big shot during the World Cup semi-final against New Zealand on Wednesday. Photograph: Lee Smith/Reuters
It was unacceptable that 45 minutes of bad cricket resulted in India’s shock exit from the World Cup, lamented captain Virat Kohli after his team suffered a heart-breaking semi-final defeat to New Zealand on Wednesday.
In a stunning top-order collapse, India were reduced to 24 for four while chasing a modest 240.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (50) and Ravindra Jadeja (77) then fought back with a superb 116-run partnership for the seventh wicket but the former’s run-out in the penultimate over tilted the game New Zealand’s way.
“Always feels disappointed when you play such good cricket and then 45 minutes of bad cricket puts you out of tournament. It is difficult to accept and difficult to come to terms with,” Kohli said.
“Credit to New Zealand bowlers. They were really good with the new ball and outstanding with the kind of areas they hit and the kind of swing they got from the surface. The way they bowled in the first half hour of our run chase was what made the difference. I think it was the skill level on display and that made life difficult for our batsmen,” he added.
Talking about Jadeja and Dhoni’s performance, he said, “Jadeja had a really outstanding couple of games and his performance today is a great sign of his skill-set and what he can do for the team. Going out with so much of clarity and turning the whole game around in no time was outstanding.”
“MS (Dhoni) had a good partnership with Jadeja, and again it was a game of margins, and he (Dhoni) got run out in the end and it could have been anybody’s game,” said Kohli, who scored just 1 from 6 balls.
Kohli said 240 was an achievable total on any surface but somehow his batsmen could not cross the line.
“We knew that we had a good day yesterday and we were proud of that effort. We thought we restricted New Zealand to a score which was chaseable on any surface. And a very professional effort with the ball this morning. We felt we had the momentum and right mind set going forward,” he said.
“But New Zealand deserve it, they put us under enough pressure and they were much sharper when it came to crunch moments.”
Summing up India’s overall performance in this World Cup, Kohli said, “At times, I think our shot-selection could have been better. That is probably the only thing I can think of. Otherwise, we played a really good brand of cricket.”
Rishabh Pant threw away his wicket, going after Mitchell Santener at a crucial juncture, further compounding India’s problems.
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson also conceded that India could have won the match had Jadeja and Dhoni stayed longer at the crease.
“With the new ball, our bowlers try to move the ball off the seam or in the air. Need to put pressure on that world class batting line-up of India. We knew that when the track slowed down, we had to squeeze,” Williamson said.
“They showed why they are a world class side when they took it really deep to a position where they could have won it through MS and Jadeja. Our character was tested and we came out on top.”
Williamson said his side assessed the conditions quickly, felt it was not a high-scoring track and thought 240-250 will help put India under pressure.
“The guys were able to do that in the middle and at the back end without going too hard. Lot of it was on the conditions, with the rain around yesterday and whether it changed the conditions.
“On a particular day, anything can happen and it was a game of small margins. We are pleased to come across the line.”
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