After India’s heartbreaking 18-run defeat in the World Cup 2019 semi-final against New Zealand in Manchester on Wednesday (July 10), skipper Virat Kohli defended veteran wicketkeeper batsman MS Dhoni for his slow knock.
Dhoni had coped a lot of criticism for his intent-less batting in the ongoing World Cup and it was no different in the all-important semi-final. Coming into bat at No. 7, Dhoni scored 50 off 72 balls while chasing Black Caps’ target of 240.
Asked whether Dhoni’s strike-rate was an issue, Kohli told reporters: “Well, look, 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 was batting with Jadeja and there was only Bhuvi to follow after so he had to hold one end together in my opinion. And because 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, his knock was outstanding.
“So as I said, when you don’t win in hindsight, a lot of things can reflect in different manners but you have to understand how the game panned out and until what stage did the game go. And you would obviously expect New Zealand to fight back at some stage because the target was steep after losing five or six wickets, but the way they batted together, I think it was the perfect tempo for that situation, in my opinion,” he explained.
India were favourites to reach the final after restricting New Zealand to just 239/8 but were rocked by top-order collpase that left them reeling at 24/4. Later, Ravindra Jadeja played a knock of his life to change the course of the match. After his dismissal on 59-ball 77, however, India lost its last hope and were bowled out in the final over.
“The way they came out and bowled in that first half-an-hour was the difference in the game. With the new ball they were outstanding with the areas that they hit. It made life very difficult,” Kohli said.
“I thought Jadeja had an outstanding game; the way he played today was a great sign for his skillsets and what he can do for the team. It always feels disappointing when you’ve played good cricket and 45 minutes of bad cricket puts you out of the tournament; it’s difficult to accept and to come to terms with but New Zealand deserved the win,” he continued.