T20 World Cup: We were not brave enough, says Kohli after India's defeat to Kiwis

Indian captain Virat Kohli. (ICC Twitter)
Indian captain Virat Kohli. (ICC Twitter)

Dubai - New Zealand pushed India to the brink of elimination


Rituraj Borkakoty

Published: Sun 31 Oct 2021, 11:16 PM

Last updated: Sun 31 Oct 2021, 11:33 PM

A rugby-obsessed country of roughly five million people, New Zealand have a history of spoiling India’s chances in the biggest cricket tournaments.

Kane Williamson’s team revelled in the seaming conditions to outclass India in the semifinal of the 2019 ODI World Cup before putting them to the sword with another clinical display in the ICC Test Championship final.

It was against this backdrop of inauspicious big-match record against the Kiwis that India arrived at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Sunday, hoping to turn their fortunes around after a humiliating 10-wicket defeat to Pakistan – their first against their fierce rivals in a World Cup game.

But the Kiwis rubbed salt into the Indian wounds, outplaying them once again on the big stage and delivering a bowling masterclass on a pitch that assisted the pace bowlers.

Williamson’s men suffocated India with pace and spin, restricting the star-studded team to a paltry 110 for seven in 20 overs.

Opener Daryl Mitchell (49 off 35 balls, 4 fours, 3 sixes) and skipper Williamson (33 not out off 31 balls) then proved –in their contrasting styles – that it was not a 110-wicket as the Kiwis kept their own semifinal hopes alive by reaching the target in just 14.3 overs.

“I don't think we were brave enough with bat or ball. Didn't have much to defend but we weren't brave when we walked out to field,” a dejected Virat Kohli said after the match.

While New Zealand bounced back in style from their defeat to Pakistan, India have now got a mountain to climb, having suffered their second straight loss in the tournament.

"When you play for the Indian cricket team, you have a lot of expectations - not just from fans, but players as well. So there's always going to be more pressure with our games and we've embraced it over the years," said Kohli when asked if the team had crumbled under the pressure of expectations.

"Everyone who plays for India has to embrace it. And when you cope together as a team you overcome it and we haven't done it these two games."

India showed first signs of nervousness on Sunday when they sent Ishan Kishan, who had replaced Suryakumar Yadav, in to open the innings with KL Rahul, pushing Rohit Sharma to number three.

If it was a ploy to keep Rohit away from the dangerous Trent Boult (4-0-20-3), it failed miserably. The left-arm pacer and Tim Southee (4-0-26-1) found seam and swing movement to trouble India.

Adam Milne (4-0-30-1) was relentless with his pace.

And the two spinners, Ish Sodhi (4-0-17-2) and Mitchell Santner (4-0-15-0), showed such control that India endured 71 balls without a boundary.

The struggle for runs came after Kishan (4), Rahul (18) and Rohit (14) found the fielders in the deep while going for the big shots, leaving Kohli with the unenviable task of repairing the innings.

But when Kohli (9) also perished to Sodhi while trying to force the pace, India found themselves in a big hole.

“We wanted to get extra runs that could give us an advantage in the second innings. I think in that process we played a lot of attacking shots. That didn't come off today,” said Jasprit Bumrah (4-0-19-2), the only Indian player to have returned with a creditable performance on Sunday.

India now not only face must-win matches against Afghanistan, Scotland and Namibia, they also have to rely on other results to keep their slim semifinal hopes alive.

It was not the scenario envisioned by their fans when the tournament started. But India now face the prospect of not reaching the knockout rounds of an ICC event for the first time since 2012 in what is Kohli’s last tournament as T20 captain.

Scores in brief:

New Zealand beat India by eight wickets.

India 110/7 in 20 overs (Ravindra Jadeja 26, Hardik Pandya 23; Trent Boult 3/20, Ish Sodhi 2/17)

New Zealand 111/2, in 14.3 overs (Daryl Mitchell 49, Kane Williamson 33 not out; Jasprit Bumrah 2/19, Mohammed Shami 0/11)

Player of the Match: Ish Sodhi (New Zealand)

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