Virat Kohli was full of praise for Pakistan after the team beat India by 180 runs in the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 final, saying Sarfraz Ahmed’s side was deserving victor because it had played better cricket.
“It's always a bad feeling when you get out or the batting doesn't work collectively, and everyone feels bad about not having contributed to the team in any way,” said the Indian captain of the disappointment of defeat at The Oval on Sunday (June 18). “But you know, you've played enough to understand that your job is done, you tried your best, and then you can't control anything afterwards. In the end, you have to accept and admire sometimes the skill of the opposition as well. 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. But you have to understand that you can only control so many things and the game has to move on from there on, so that's the kind of thinking I have when these things happen.”
One of the few bright spots for India was the performance of Hardik Pandya. The all-rounder held his own with the ball even while Jasprit Bumrah, R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja were being carted around, but trumped that with the bat, hitting 76 off 43 in a breathtaking counter-attack. Not a shot was mistimed, and his innings had six sixes and four fours, when he was run-out in a mix-up with Jadeja in the 27th over. Jadeja had hit the ball to the covers and Pandya set off for a run, but his partner didn’t respond. When both found themselves at the batsman’s end, Jadeja stayed put instead of running out of his crease and sacrificing his wicket, leading to a furious Pandya slamming his bat and gesticulating angrily.
Kohli said Pandya reacted that way because he was in the zone and batting so well as to raise faint hopes of a miraculous win. “Obviously everyone who plays for the country is committed to winning cricket matches for the team, and he's a very passionate, very committed cricketer,” was Kohli’s take. “He felt he was in the zone today and he could have done something really special, and that's why the disappointment came out, and that's part of playing international sport. You're so committed, you're so motivated that when things don't happen, and without even it being a mistake, you can get frustrated. You don't understand why it has happened.
“But yes, the way he batted today and the way he bowled and the way he fielded, that's exactly why we back him, because he can be the match-winner for us in situations where the team is in trouble. Today was a bit too far-fetched because we knew one more wicket and it will keep getting tougher. But when he was striking it well, I think he also felt and everyone in the changing room felt that if he can go on for a bit more, then things could become interesting. Unfortunately, that didn't happen.”
Kohli said the lack of a big partnership in India’s 158 all out was an important factor in its defeat. “Early wickets are never good, especially in a chase,” said Kohli. “Then we kept losing wickets. One big partnership would have been the key to set it up nicely, but as I said, credit to the opposition. They've also come to express their skill and win a cricket game, and they certainly did. 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. We have no hesitations or shame to admit that we could not play our best game today.”
Kohli said his side would sit down and analyse the heavy defeat just like it had any other game, with the intent of ironing out mistakes and ensuring there was no repetition.
“We analyse our victories also, we analyse defeats as well,” he said. “You learn with every cricket game that you play. It's up to you whether you are open to learning things or you're not. If you're happy with success and then you're completely ignoring it, and you want to ignore failures or dwell too much in it, it's not a good balance at all. We have identified areas, even in victories, that we can improve at, and this is a loss. It's the final, so it looks magnified to everyone, but we have won before, we have lost before, and we have always learned things from all those games. There's no game that we play that we feel like, ‘Oh, we don't even need to look back and see what we can improve on.’ Definitely when you haven't done things right, more things have gone wrong in a game, you obviously sit down and analyse and learn from it.”