It was a match that could have taken India closer to a spot in the semi-final. At the halfway stage, it seemed a big possibility. But Sri Lanka, those magnificent ‘underdogs’, managed to pull off what the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 badly needed. The group opened up with two virtual quarter-finals lined up on Sunday and Monday. India will play the first of those, and will have some time to think back and see what went wrong or what could have been better but for now, the captain Virat Kohli just feels that they were outplayed by Sri Lanka’s feisty batting show.
“I think Sri Lanka played well,” said Kohli when asked if India’s bowling or batting could have been better. “That fact is also present. We’re playing against a team. We’re not playing amongst ourselves,” he added.
“I personally thought that we had enough on the board halfway — you know, during the break. And I think our bowlers also bowled decently well. If batsmen come out and play like that and everyone plays well, you have to give credit to the opposition as well. We’re not invincible. We are playing against other sides who are also Champion sides,” said Kohli.
While stressing multiple times about having been satisfied with the score at the innings break, the skipper also added they might address the issue of scoring rates which he didn’t find too worrisome.
“From the batting point of view, as I said, 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,” he opined.
“We obviously have to consolidate and then explode in the end, and that’s the way we always play. We don’t — we’re 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,” said Kohli and extended the same reasoning to the bowling combination as well when the possibility of including Ashwin was put to him.
“You always see the hindsight when you lose games of cricket. You trust your bowlers to control runs, and, you know, have good lengths and have your covers when they get out. Generally, we wanted to do in this game. We did that in the last game as well. Sometimes it comes off. Sometimes it doesn’t. That doesn’t mean you don’t think what if we had done something different? You back a side, and you go with it. When things don’t go well, obviously, you address those things,” he said and added, “But you expect them to execute those things. As batsmen, we can’t score every time. As bowlers, you can’t literally bowl consistent line and length every game that you play. So some guys will have off days. On outfields like these and pitches like these, you will have sides who will bat well.”
The conditions were not the most helpful for the bowlers, as Kohli pointed out while explaining the rationale behind not going for Yuvraj Singh. “If the team is four or five down and you have to get few overs out of the way from the part-timer, then Yuvi can be used, but at that stage, I did not think — because Jadeja was also going for runs, and it was difficult to bowl with the breeze going that side to the shorter boundary. If Jadeja is finding it difficult, then obviously Yuvi would have found it a bit more difficult as well,” explained Kohli.
“When you collapse as a batting unit, you don’t sit down and think of your life’s over. You just move on and say it’s a bad day. Forget about it. That’s what. In a Test match, you have a lot to think about because the game goes on for five days. But I think in shorter format cricket, you have to forget it and move on because you’re playing in three days time again, and we have to be fresh as a team. We have to get back into that same mindset and come out and try to do the same things again. If a team — as I said, if a team plays well, you have to take your hat off,” was Kohli’s advice to his bowlers going ahead after a bad day.