India lost the first semifinal of the ICC World Cup 2019 against New Zealand by 81 runs at the Old Trafford in Manchester to bow out of the tournament. Despite a shocking exit, former Pakistan cricketer Shoaib Akhtar has said India can be proud of the way they played in the marquee tournament.

Dhoni is a legend: Akhtar

New Zealand bowlers utilised the conditions to great effect to knock off in-form Indian openers. Matt Henry and Trent Boult wrecked havoc with the new ball reducing India to five for three from where Virat Kohli & Co failed to recover. But MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja staged an outstanding partnership to take the game deep. They added 100+ runs for the seventh wicket to give India some hopes of winning but New Zealand fought back to dismiss Ravindra Jadeja while Martin Guptill got rid of Dhoni with a brilliant throw to put the final nail in India’s coffin.

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Shoaib Akhtar heaped rich praise on MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja for the way they staged India’s fightback during the tough chase. Calling Dhoni a legend, Akhtar said that the veteran wicket-keeper batsman is a great ambassador for the game. India came so close from nowhere but the run-out of MS Dhoni changed the course of the game in favour of the 2015 runners up.

“What a match. Wah, Wah, Ravindra Jadeja… very good innings. Dhoni… you are an absolute legend. With your game today, you have proved you’re a great batsman and a great brand ambassador for the team. But unfortunately, that run out changed it. A dive would have changed it. India, you were so close… yet so far,” Shoaib Akhtar said in his YouTube channel.

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Furthermore, Shoaib Akhtar hailed the way team India put up a brave fight and that they have made themselves proud in this World Cup in England. India finished at the top of the points table after the group stages only to bow out in the semifinals losing to New Zealand.

“But hats off to India. India fought back really well. You have done yourself very proud. Jadeja, you have saved the grace,” he concluded.