India skipper Virat Kohli said his teammates can be proud of themselves despite suffering a humiliating 180-run loss at the hands of arch-rivals Pakistan in the final of the ICC Champions Trophy. Widely touted as the favorites to lift the coveted title, India came a cropper in the final.
Barring the toss, nothing much went India’s way as Pakistan thoroughly outplayed their much illustrious opponents to cap off their dream campaign which had begun with a 124-run defeat against India at Edgbaston on June 4. Virat Kohli’s decision to field first totally backfired as Fakhar Zaman and Azhar Ali laid the foundation for a huge total with a 128 runs partnership for the first wicket. The partnership came to an end when Azhar Ali was run out for 59 following a horrible mix up but Zaman did not allow it to deter him as he went on to compile his maiden century. Mohammad Hafeez then played a whirlwind knock of 57 runs to power the Men in Green to 338 for 4.
In reply, India never looked in contention to chase down the improbable total before being eventually dismissed for 158 in the 31st over. Mohammad Amir all but sealed the game in his very first spell by accounting for India’s holy trinity- Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, and Virat Kohli- with only 33 runs on the board and except a brief period of time when Hardik Pandya was taking the Pakistani bowlers to cleaners, India never looked in the contest.
Speaking after the game, Kohli accepted the defeat with utmost grace and sounded like a proud captain.
“We can be very proud of that as a unit, and we leave here with our heads held high because we understand the kind of expectations and pressures we face as a team,” Kohli said. “Credit to everyone for standing up and showing that resilience and reaching the finals, and today we were outplayed in all departments.”
India had registered impressive wins over Pakistan, South Africa and Bangladesh on their way to the final. Their only defeat came against Sri Lanka when they failed to defend 321.
“They had to earn their win. They made us make those mistakes because of the way they were bowling and the way they applied the pressure in the field, as well. And we have no hesitations or shame to admit that we could not play our best game today,” Kohli added.
Kohli further rued the loss of early wickets. Mohammad Amir had turned the match very much in Pakistan’s favor by removing Rohit Sharma and Kohli in his first two overs and the writing was very much on the wall when India’s top-six batsmen were back in the hut with only 72 runs on the board.
“Early wickets are never good, especially in a chase,” he said. “Then we kept losing wickets. One big partnership would have been the key to set it up nicely. It is always a bad feeling when you get out or the batting doesn’t work collectively. Not that we are not playing at our best, we tried our level best, but we just couldn’t make things happen today. But personally, yes, it does feel bad.”
The only positive for India from the match was Hardik Pandya’s stunning assault as he blasted 4 fours and six huge sixes to race away to 76 off just 43 balls before a disastrous run-out ended his promising knock. Kohli admitted that Pandya’s knock had given the team a glimmer of hope.
“When Hardik started hitting, everyone started getting the feeling that we could take the game deep,” Kohli said. “That was a pleasant moment. If we can take the game deep, then we can probably get closer to the total. But again, a mix-up or an error at that stage, so these things happen on the field, you understand that as cricketers.”
Pandya did not hesitate in venting his frustration after Ravindra Jadeja turned his back on him which resulted in his run-out. When asked about that, Kohli said: “He felt he was in the zone today and he could have done something really special, and that’s why the disappointment came out. You’re so committed, you’re so motivated that when things don’t happen, and without even it being a mistake, it can get frustrating. You don’t understand why it has happening.”
Kohli also rued India’s wayward bowling that resulted in as many as 25 extras and said that the team needs to sort it out in future.
“That’s something that we certainly need to take care of in the future. Obviously the same bowlers are going to play, the same guys are going to be back. The more consistent you get in learning from games like this, it’s better for the team in the future. So yeah, that’s an area we certainly need to look at,” he said.