India's captain Virat Kohli reacts
India's captain Virat Kohli reacts at the end of play. Image Credit: AFP

Manchester: Virat Kohli, the disappointed Indian cricket captain, attributed his team’s defeat to ‘45 minutes of bad cricket’ against New Zealand - referring to the collapse of his team’s top order.

“In knockouts, it’s anyone’s game and New Zealand showed more composure. They were braver than us and deserved to win. It always feels bad when you play well throughout the tournament and then 45 minutes of bad cricket puts you out.”

Kohli felt that his team played the first half well but slipped with their top order failing badly. “The first half, we were very, very good. With the ball, in the field, we were spot on. We got what we needed at that point. We thought we had restricted New Zealand to a chaseable score on any surface but the way they come out with the ball in the first half-an-hour was what made the difference. We knew we had a good day yesterday and were proud of it.”

He then went on hail New Zealand bowlers. “Credit to the New Zealand bowlers, they were really good with the new ball and hit the right areas. I think it was the skill level on display (from NZ bowlers) was there for all to see.”

Kohli had to answer queries on Dhoni again. Interestingly, he was asked whether he should have batted up the order and also whether he should have batted faster. As regards Dhoni coming at No.7, Kohli said: “He (Dhoni) has been given that role after the first few games of being in a situation where he can - if the situation’s bad - he can control one end like he did today or if there is a scenario where there are six or seven overs left he can go and strike.”

On whether he should have batted faster, Kohli said: “It’s always, you know, a safer option to look at it from outside and say, Maybe this could have happened but I think today he (Dhoni) was batting with Jadeja and there was only Bhuvu (Bhuvneshwar) to follow - so he had to hold one end together. As Jadeja was playing so well, you needed a solid partnership and to get a 100-partnership from that situation I think it had to be the right balance of one guy holding an end and Jadeja playing the way he did.”

Is Kohli disappointed that the middle order did not put up their hands when the top order collapsed? “You obviously feel bad for the result and everyone goes out there to win the game for the team and if it doesn’t happen, you feel, like, you could have done things differently or look at things in hindsight. This why these games are called knockouts because if the opposition plays better, you are out of the tournament. So we have to accept that.

“We are sad but we are not, you know, devastated because the kind of cricket that we played in this tournament. We know where we stood as a team and today we were not good enough and that is the nature of this tournament. So, I don’t think that I would like to break things down immediately, but in time we’ll have to sit down and analyse where we went wrong and the things we could have done right in this game particularly.

Kohli was also asked about Jadeja’s celebration on hitting the half-century especially aimed at commentator Sanjay Manjrekar. “I don’t think we, any of us had to say anything to Jadeja after what happened over the last one week. He was quite ready to just get on to the park, to be honest (smiling). And you saw the passion with which he played and we have seen it in Test cricket a few times, he’s played knock under tremendous pressure and he’s got three triple hundreds in first class cricket if I’m not wrong, so the talent has obviously always been there.

“In my watching Jadeja for ten years, me playing with him as well, this is probably his best knock according to me because the kind of pressure, the stage we are at, almost out of the game and then he produces that. So he was very motivated.”