In the crucial segment between overs 25 and 40 India managed to score just 80 runs. In the same phase of their innings, Sri Lanka added 103 runs. Having started on a steady note, did India fall short of what could and should have been an insurmountable target?
Until the final ten overs began, India were scoring at a run-rate of about five an over despite Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma giving them a solid opening with a 138-run stand in the first 25 overs. Against Pakistan, it had been a similar storyline, but the big difference was Yuvraj Singh, Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya providing them a robust ending with their powerhitting.
Today, all three of those batsmen failed, and despite MS Dhoni bringing forth his best finishing skills, India seemed at least 20 runs short.
Virat Kohli, however, disagreed with such thinking. India, Kohli pointed out, do not play the “explosive” brand of cricket through the middle overs that teams such as England have made a trademark. Instead, he simply felt that Sri Lanka’s basmen had been too good on the day.
“I think batting did really well,” Kohli said. “We obviously have to consolidate and then explode in the end, and that’s the way we always play. We don’t – we are not a side that always plays explosive cricket throughout the 50 overs, but if a side comes out here and plays cricket with that kind of mindset and executes their shots so well, then you have to take your hat off sometimes and say very well played.”
Pushed to have a re-think, Kohli admitted that, next time, India might have to pace the innings better to raise a more competitive target.
“I thought we paced it well. I thought we had enough on the board. In hindsight, when you look back, maybe you think of phases that we could have accelerated, but I don’t see that as a major issue. Maybe we will have to push harder now in the next few games to give us a 20-run cushion. Maybe after seeing a result like this, because we’re playing on the same ground as well.”
At the outset of the tournament, Kohli had said in a tightly-knit tournament like this, what matters on the day is execution. India just messed up both with the ball and the bat in execution. It only made Sri Lanka’s job easier.