Probably, the one man in the Wankhede crowd who could best understand Virat Kohli’s frustration at the end of Thursday’s game would be Sachin Tendulkar. When at the peak of his career, in the 1990s, Tendulkar came up with one gem after another, but many of them ended in losing cause. It came to a point when his ability as a matchwinner started to be questioned.
In the semifinal of the World twenty20 Cup, Kohli hardly put a foot wrong, but his breathtaking effort of 89 not out, will now have a seven-wicket defeat in the results column.
The star Indian batsman fielded with resolve, even provided the team with a vital breakthrough when they were struggling to control the 97-run fourth wicket partnership between Johnson Charles and Lendl Simmons.
Kohli had led the team’s chase against Pakistan and against Australia before helping India to a big total in the last-four clash.
Against the West Indies, it was the bowling which let him and the team down.
Dew was a factor, making it difficult to grip the ball, but after having got the two dangermen of the West Indian batting- Gayle and Samuels- out early, India should have wrapped up the game. The two no balls proved highly costly.
Fast bowlers overstepping the line is understood, but it was the experienced off-spinner R Ashwin, who bowled the first no ball. With Gayle and Samuels already back in the hut, Simmons’ wicket at that stage would have made the pressure stifling for the West Indies.
“The only thing I’m disappointed about are the two no-balls (the second one was bowled by Hardik Pandya). Other than that we tried our best and even if the conditions were not in favour of the spinners, whatever resources we had we tried our best in the game,” said captain Dhoni.
As for the pace bowlers, Ashish Nehra had set the template by focusing on clever changes in his length and line. On a flat wicket, his strategy to look for pace against the powerful West Indian batsmen was more of playing to the gallery than cricketing logic. A flashy character, it is something he will have to guard against.
India had started the game on the backfoot when it lost the toss.
Being a clear night, heavy dew was expected. They should have known, a cushion of 20 to 25 runs extra would be needed to neutralise the wet conditions, where gripping the ball is difficult. Ajinkya Rahane, drafted in place of Shikhar Dhawan, did well for himself with a 35-ball 40. Rahane was unable to find the gap and add the power to beat the man on the boundaries, with most of his hits cut off at the ropes.
Dhoni called India’s total good enough, observing there was a risk involved to go for the extra 20 runs which could have left them defending even lesser.
“Thirty more (runs) would have been really nice. But you have to realise it was half an hour early start, a bad toss to lose, so when they started batting the first few overs were fine, but after that there was a considerable amount of dew which meant the spinner couldn’t bowl how they would have liked to. It was quite difficult to score 190. We are saying 10-15 short based on the second innings but you have to analyse that the surface.”
The Indian captain also got his calculations wrong. Knowing that his spinners would find it difficult to grip the ball, he could have looked to bowl them upfront once Nehra and Jasprit Bumrah had given him the big early breakthroughs.