Cricket World Cup

'Wanted to go back to the hotel as soon as possible' – Chahal recalls distressing World Cup exit

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Over two months after India’s exit from the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019, leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal has revealed the state of despondence in the dressing room that followed the loss to New Zealand in the semi-final.

India’s No.10 in the 240-run chase, Chahal walked out to bat at the fall of MS Dhoni’s wicket, which had all but extinguished India's hopes. Chahal could add only five more runs to the total, before being the final wicket to fall, as India ended 18 runs short.

“It was my first World Cup, and when Mahi bhai [MS Dhoni] got out and I was going in [to bat], I was trying to hold back my tears. It was so depressing,” Chahal told at an event in New Delhi.

Dhoni provided a calm supporting hand to the enterprising Ravindra Jadeja during India’s pursuit in Manchester, after they had lost their top-three batsmen with the team score at 5, which further reduced to 92/6 by the 31st over. Their 116-run stand raised chances of a dramatic fightback, but Jadeja’s dismissal sent the equation into a tizzy, and Martin Guptill’s run out of Dhoni, off a direct hit, proved to be the final nail.

The result of the rain-hit game, played over two days, ended India’s pursuit of a third 50-over World Cup title, truncating a dominating campaign that saw them top the group stages with seven wins in nine games.

“We played so well for nine games but suddenly we were going out of the tournament. Rain wasn’t in our hands and so it won’t be right to say anything [about the interruption].

“It was the first time that we really wanted to go back to the hotel as soon as possible from the ground.”

It was Chahal’s maiden World Cup, having debuted for India a year after the 2015 edition. The 29-year-old wishes to win “at least” one global title with the team during his career, pinning hopes on next year’s ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia.

“I want to win at least one World Cup. I think the way we have been playing and how our team is shaping up currently, it's a positive sign. We won in New Zealand, Australia and West Indies and if we win the T20 World Cup next year, all the noise will die down.”

In the lead up to the 2020 event, India has been assessing and experimenting with its spin combination, leaving Chahal with a solitary ODI appearance since the Manchester game. A limited-overs regular for the last couple of years, and Virat Kohli’s trump card for their IPL side Royal Challengers Bangalore, Chahal is unperturbed by the competition around him.

“Your job is to perform. When we [Kuldeep Yadav and him] came, we performed really well. After IPL, our bench strength has got pretty strong too. Now if the team management is trying good talent, it is good that you know that there is competition and you have to work harder. You can’t stay away from cricket."

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